Housing Action in Budget 2017
The federal government has committed to the creation of a National Housing Strategy in spring 2017 based on the vision that “housing is the cornerstone of building sustainable inclusive communities and a strong Canadian economy where we can prosper and thrive.” The National Housing Collaborative – an alliance of nonprofit and private housing associations and major foundations – is keenly awaiting Budget 2017 as a downpayment on the government’s commitment to realizing its bold vision for housing.
Here are three things to look for in the upcoming budget as positive signs that a housing affordability agenda is moving forward in Canada.
ONE: A comprehensive plan
It’s time we dealt with housing as a system. To address the wide variety of housing needs – from homelessness to home ownership– in different housing markets across Canada, the National Housing Collaborative has stressed four pillars essential to the success of the National Housing Strategy:
- Ending homelessness
- Incenting new rental supply through innovative financing tools
- Stabilizing and transforming social housing, ensuring no loss of rent-geared-to-income units
- Directly addressing affordability with a portable housing benefit for low-income renters.
A wide range of national housing stakeholders supports these as foundational pillars to any comprehensive plan. We will look for Budget 2017 to point the way to continued collaboration with stakeholders to bolster the National Housing Strategy, and an Indigenous housing strategy founded in the principles of reconciliation.
TWO: A clear commitment to housing affordability
In communities all across this country – not just the big city markets – the high cost of housing is strangling other important family needs. For households paying upwards of 50% of their income on rent, the high cost of housing is actually pushing them into poverty. Connecting the National Housing Strategy to government efforts in poverty reduction can maximize both social and fiscal impact. In fact, measures like a new nation-wide portable housing benefit would be a downpayment on both housing affordability and poverty reduction.
THREE: A significant investment in housing – with a focus on outcomes
Real investment is required to produce real outcomes. Achieving the federal government’s bold housing vision will only happen by making it a priority, starting in Budget 2017. Without investment, this once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the housing needs of Canadians will be wasted on empty words.
Budget 2017 – and the National Housing Strategy itself – must be grounded in the best evidence we have on what works. Investments in Budget 2017 must be accompanied by specific and measurable targets, timelines and outcomes in the National Housing Strategy to come.
Members of the NHC will be on hand, on Budget Day and beyond, to support achievement of the bold vision set out by the federal government. Let’s make this is a real move forward in addressing housing needs across Canada.
– The National Housing Collaborative