New report shows that over half a million British Columbians are still living
in core housing need; number will grow without national action plan

"The federal government has an opportunity to act on accountability and affordability"

VANCOUVER, Nov. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The latest data for the 2006 Census from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reveals that nearly 220,000 British Columbian households (or approximately 550,000 people, a majority of whom are renters), are still living in core housing need, according to a comprehensive new report released today by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada).

"The report highlights the plight of renter households in BC, 30% of whom - 133,000 households - are in core need. With the private market unable to supply new affordable rental units, the need for government to invest in new co-op and non-profit housing couldn't be clearer." said Thom Armstrong, Executive Director for the Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia (CHF BC).

The report also emphasizes the strong link between unemployment and core housing need across Canada. "Households with an unemployed maintainer are three times more likely to be in core need than households with an employed maintainer," said Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director of CHF Canada. "With the current economic crisis and rising levels of unemployment, the housing need situation will be significantly worse in the future unless governments act now."

Mr. Gazzard was speaking at the release of the The Dunning Report: Dimensions of Core Housing Need in Canada - Second Edition. Prepared by housing expert Will Dunning, the report provides a detailed analysis of the most recent housing data (2006) from the CMHC. The report uses the CMHC definition of core housing need based on adequacy, suitability and affordability. A household that spends more than 30% of before-tax income on housing is considered to be in core housing need.

"There has been no change over five years in the number of Canadians living in core housing need. There are troubling signs that the staggering number - nearly 4 million Canadians - will grow if federal housing investments are not directed to creating new affordable housing, including non-profit housing co-operatives. And it will cost much more to fix this problem if we wait for it to get worse," said Gazzard.

CHF Canada pointed to two steps that the federal, provincial and territorial governments can take immediately: developing an accountability framework that sets clear targets for reduction in housing need, and committing to protect the affordability of existing social housing. CHF Canada also said that the country's housing co-ops must be part of the solution to substantially reduce the number of Canadians in core housing need.

These steps would be part of a transparent national action plan that focuses on housing need reduction, with appropriate, well-defined contributions from all levels of government.

"Many of Canada's 630,000 units of social housing will see their funding agreements with the federal government end in the next few years," said Mr. Gazzard. "By simply maintaining housing assistance programs at today's levels, the federal government can continue to provide affordable housing for low-income Canadians."

"Stephen Harper's government cannot be blamed for the figures presented in the 2006 housing data (the Conservative government was first elected in January 2006). But it has a unique opportunity to ensure that its housing investments, first announced in September 2008 and then again in 2009 as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan (Budget 2009), are directly linked to reducing the number of Canadian households in core housing need. And it can do that right now," Gazzard said.

Backgrounder: http://www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pdf/DunningBackgrounder2009En.pdf

The Dunning Report: http://www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pdf/DunningReport2009EnWeb.pdf

CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co-operative housing movement. Its members include nearly 900 non-profit housing co-operatives and other organizations across Canada. More than a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co-ops, in every province and territory.

CHF BC represents 260 housing co-ops with 14,500 homes in BC.

SOURCE Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

For further information: For further information: Thom Armstrong, Executive Director (604) 879-5111 ext. 143, or (604) 868-8952 (cell), tarmstrong@chf.bc.ca; Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director, (613) 230-2201 ext. 230, or (613) 293-8913 (cell), ngazzard@chfcanada.coop; David Granovsky, Government Relations Co-ordinator (613) 230-2201, ext. 222, or (613) 290-7687 (cell), dgranovsky@chfcanada.coop


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