Budget Leaves 1.5 Million Canadians in Housing Crisis

    OTTAWA, Feb. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - When Minister Jim Flaherty stood to
deliver the Conservative Government's 2008 budget today he left 1.5 million
Canadians in desperate housing need on the outside looking in. These are the
families living in housing they can't afford, isn't safe, isn't healthy and is
bursting at the seams due to overcrowding. The budget also ignored the
desperate plight of 200,000 people experiencing homelessness.
    The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association's (CHRA) President, Karen
Charlton, points out that "It's not good enough to say that we can't afford
it, we don't have the room for this kind of spending, when this government has
clearly chosen a tax cut agenda at the expense of the well-being of vulnerable
children, immigrants, people on worker disability support, seniors who have
worked their whole lives for this country, and others who through no fault of
their own need some help to access affordable housing."
    The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, along with other community
housing stakeholders, recently released a report that shows that government
spending on affordable housing declined steadily between the mid-1990's and
2001 for a loss of $700 million in annual investment. Since 2002, the federal
government has re-invested some of that loss, but it has fallen far short of
what is needed to meet the demand that built up over the previous decade.
    The report went on to demonstrate that if the federal government simply
committed to maintain today's investment level over the next twenty years,
without investing a penny more than it does today, it would provide affordable
housing developers with the stability they need to house thousands of Canadian
families every year, and the number would increase over time.
    "We handed the federal government a strategy that would have turned them
from heels to heroes to thousands of Canadian households needing support
without adding a penny to their expense line, at a time when they are
tightening their belt, and somehow it was completely ignored", says CHRA
executive director Sharon Chisholm. "Given that this commitment would not
require new spending, I continue to call on the federal government to take
this critical step."
    CHRA has also brought to the government's attention the fact that three
existing federal programs that help the homeless and Canadians in need of
affordable housing are set to expire in March 2009, and has urged their

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Sharon Chisholmm, Executive
Director, CHRA, (613) 594-3007, ext.11, (613) 866-9611 (cell)

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