Millions trapped in nation-wide housing crisis ignored as federal budget fails to deliver



    TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - Millions of Canadians in desperate need of
affordable homes have been ignored in today's federal budget, says the
National Coalition on Housing and Homelessness. Low-income households,
homeless people, national and local community organizations, municipal leaders
and business groups have all called for a comprehensive and fully-funded
national housing strategy, but the federal government has failed to deliver.
    "Insecure housing and homelessness leads directly to decreased outcomes
for children and families," says Sharon Chisholm, Executive Director of the
Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. "Good homes are critical for
economic competitiveness. Over two decades, governments (especially the
provinces) have made massive cuts to housing. In recent years, the federal
government has failed to deliver a housing and community strategy and the
provincial response has been slow and fragmented. The three years in federal
housing funding allocated last September, along with the two years in homeless
dollars announced in December, are welcome, but they are, at best, a
down-payment on a comprehensive, sustainable housing program."
    "The numbers from Canada's latest census underline the critical need for
more affordable homes," says Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow at the Wellesley
Institute. "Our future population growth will come from immigration. Newcomers
arrive poorer than resident Canadians, and stay poorer for longer. A national
housing strategy is more important than ever. Canada also urgently needs a
green housing strategy, especially after federal green housing plans were
shelved by the government last year."
    "Social housing is the best investment for people and communities," says
Véronique Laflamme of FRAPRU. "Quebec, and Canada, has a long history of
successful and cost-effective housing development. These hundreds of thousands
of social housing units provide good homes and make great neighbours. That's
why we are calling for $2 billion annually in new funding for social housing.
At least 1.5 million households - four million women, men and children - are
in 'core housing need'. Hundreds of thousands experience homelessness. All
levels of government need to work together to find solutions to make sure all
Canadians have decent, affordable homes."
    "Most Aboriginal people live in urban areas, and they suffer some of the
worst conditions," says David Seymour, President of the National Aboriginal
Housing Association. "Canada needs a national aboriginal housing strategy that
ensures Aboriginal housing and services under Aboriginal control. We are
pleased that the September 2006 announcement of the Aboriginal affordable
housing trusts has been confirmed in the budget. However, there remains no
sign of action by provinces in eastern Canada in the design and delivery
mechanism of this program. This is particularly evident in Ontario."
    "Canada is one of the richest countries in the world," says Cathy Crowe,
a Toronto street nurse. "The homelessness disaster and nation-wide affordable
housing crisis are a national disgrace. For a fraction of the federal surplus,
for a fraction of the amount the federal government gives in tax cuts to
wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, we could have a fully-funded
national housing program."

    The NCHH is a national coalition of housing and homelessness
organizations, faith groups and others dedicated to the goal of a
comprehensive national housing strategy for Canada.





For further information:

For further information: Sharon Chisholm, (613) 594-3007; Cathy Crowe,
(416) 560-7235; Véronique Laflamme, (514) 522-1010; David Seymour, (604)
666-0866; Michael Shapcott, (416) 605-8316

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The Wellesley Institute

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FEDERAL BUDGET REACTION 2007

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