Long-Term, National Plan Needed for Affordable Housing and Homelessness: All Canadians need a place to call home

OTTAWA, April 3 /CNW/ - In this election, a long-term national commitment to fund affordable housing and end homelessness is needed to ensure a healthy and prosperous Canada, says the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA). Such a commitment will assist more than 1.5 million Canadian households struggling to afford adequate, safe and secure housing. It would also help end homelessness among the 150,000-300,000 Canadians who are living on our streets or in precarious housing.

"Without a place to call home, Canadians cannot pursue their dreams, and our communities cannot achieve their potential - it's that simple," says CHRA President Bruce Pearce. "Housing is the bedrock of Canadian communities."

Federal funding to build and retrofit affordable housing promotes healthy, green, prosperous and inclusive communities; and affordable housing investments reduce reliance on costly emergency medical and police services among homeless Canadians, create good jobs in construction trades and housing services, cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and fuel a sustainable economy.

"By investing in housing solutions, we can achieve so much as a nation," says Pearce. "As the national voice for affordable housing and homelessness in Canada, CHRA calls on all political parties to support a national housing plan that includes long-term federal funding and engagement in affordable housing and homelessness."

Essential elements of a national housing plan include a commitment to:

  1. Maintain current annual federal funding of $1.7 billion:

    Federal funding for Canada's existing social housing, put in place years ago through long-term agreements, is being phased out and will drop by over $500 million annually until it fully disappears. Sustaining this funding will stop the deterioration of 620,000 social housing units across the country and, in many cases, prevent their liquidation. It will also enable us to build new affordable housing to meet the needs of Canada's growing population, while counter-acting the effects of the recession through housing construction.

  2. Renew and increase funding for CMHC's Affordable Housing Initiative and renovation programs (RRAP):

    The federal government currently invests $253 million annually in these programs which produce new housing and maintain existing affordable housing. These programs have yet to be renewed for 2011-14 as had been expected. Canada's housing crisis will deepen if these initiatives are not renewed with increased funding.

  3. Extend and double funding for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy:

    Ending homelessness by providing affordable and supportive housing actually costs less than the services individuals currently rely on while experiencing homelessness, such as emergency shelters, health, justice and social service systems. Although the Homelessness Partnering Strategy has been renewed until 2014 with annual funding of $135 million, it requires a longer-term commitment and its funding should be doubled to truly address the full scope of Canada's homelessness problem. 

  4. Reinstate and extend the ecoENERGY Retrofit - Homes program and add a low-income component.

    Investing in energy retrofits makes housing more affordable, creates jobs and helps our environment. The ecoENERGY Retrofit program for homes must be reinstated to deliver these benefits, along with a low-income component, which will pay for itself through energy savings (Canada is one of the few OECD countries without a low-income energy efficiency program).

See CHRA's web site for more detailed information on these proposals:

http://chra-achru.ca/en/index.php/our-work/election-2011/

About CHRA: CHRA is Canada's national voice for the full range of affordable housing issues and solutions. CHRA's diverse membership includes non-profit housing providers, municipalities, provincial/territorial housing ministries, organizations working to end homelessness and other groups and individuals working towards a future where every Canadian can access decent, affordable housing.

SOURCE CANADIAN HOUSING AND RENEWAL ASSOCIATION (CHRA)

For further information:

For media Contact:
Krystle van Hoof
Manager, Marketing and Communications
Kvanhoof@chra-achru.ca
613.889.1504

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CANADIAN HOUSING AND RENEWAL ASSOCIATION (CHRA)

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2011

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