Federal government once again boycotts critical national housing summit



    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - Provincial and territorial housing ministers are
meeting August 20 in St John's, NL, but the federal housing minister has
rejected an invitation to join the national summit. It is the second time the
federal government has refused to meet with provincial housing counterparts in
two years. In June, after criticism for failing to meet its housing
obligations, the federal government promised in a formal note to the United
Nations that: "the Government of Canada commits to continuing to explore ways
to enhance efforts to address poverty and housing issues, in collaboration
with provinces and territories."
    The federal government promised $1 billion in new housing funding this
year, and another $1 billion next year, and has made other short-term housing
announcements in recent years. At the same time, the federal government has
quietly reduced its housing supports (the number of households assisted under
federal programs will drop by 10% from 2001 to 2013 even as affordable housing
needs continue to rise). Over the past two decades, there has been a
significant erosion in the federal role in affordable housing while provincial
and municipal investments have increased. If recent trends continue,
municipalities will out-spend the federal government within the next two
years.
    "Canadians are suffering a nation-wide affordable housing crisis that is
deep and persistent," says Michael Shapcott, Director of Affordable Housing
and Social Innovation at the Wellesley Institute. "The last time federal,
provincial and territorial housing ministers met, four years ago, they
tentatively agreed on a new framework for a national housing plan. But there
has been no progress since then on a plan that would include targets and
timelines, adequate funding, monitoring and ongoing assessment. The federal
government needs to get back to the table, and other key partners should also
be invited, including municipalities, Aboriginal groups, and representatives
of the non-profit and private sectors."
    The Wellesley Institute will soon release a comprehensive housing report
called The State of the Nation's Housing 2009. Some key findings from that
research are posted in a two-page backgrounder at www.wellesleyinstitute.com
and include:
    Lagging federal investments: Federal affordable housing investments have
been stagnant, falling behind inflation and population increases. At $64 per
capita, the federal government spends a little more than half the average of
provinces and territories.
    Nation-wide affordable housing crisis: Across Canada, about 1.5 million
renter households, and 1.5 million owner households, are paying more than 30%
of their income on housing - the commonly accepted threshold for being
precariously housed.

    The Wellesley Institute is an independent, non-partisan, and pragmatic
urban think tank that works at the national, provincial, and local levels to
advance urban health issues. We conduct our work within four core pillars:
Affordable Housing, Healthcare Reform, Social Innovation, and Immigrant Health
and do so through rigorous research, pragmatic policy solutions and community
action.





For further information:

For further information: Michael Shapcott, Director of Affordable
Housing and Social Innovation, Telephone - (416) 972-1010, x231, Mobile -
(416) 605-8316, michael@wellesleyinstitute.com

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The Wellesley Institute

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