OTTAWA and GATINEAU, QC, April 3, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Le Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) is occupying, since 11:20 am, the offices of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) located at 700 Montreal Road, in Ottawa. The Quebec organization, which advocates for housing rights, demands an emergency meeting with the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development and minister responsible for CMHC, Diane Finley. FRAPRU is demanding that the Minister commits to the continuation of the federal subsidies for 600,000 social housing units presently financed by the federal government, including 127,000 in Québec and 227 700 in Ontario.
FRAPRU notes that before 1994 nearly all social housing units were built on the basis of long term financing agreements with the federal government. With these agreements Ottawa committed for decades to subsidize public housing projects, cooperatives, not-for profits, either directly or with the agreement of the provinces. It is these subsidies which assures that low-income tenants who live in these units have a rent that respects their capacity to pay.
However, these agreements have begun to expire therefore the affected units no longer receive any funding from the federal government. In the cooperatives and not-for-profit housing units financed directly by Ottawa the residents find themselves from one day to the next with rents two or three times higher than what they currently pay. As for the provinces that receive federal subsidies, they see significant reductions in funding which could convince them to raise rents for residents and/or privatize some units.
For now the expiration of the agreements has affected a small number of social housing units; the number of housing units financed by the federal government decreased from 630,000 in 2006 to 603,600 in 2011. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts that this number will fall to 594,600 at the end of 2012. The Main Estimates presented at the beginning of March by the Treasury Board calculates that just the end of the subsidies for those 9000 units will save 21.7 million in 2012-2013. This process will accelerate over the next few years, saving more and more for the federal government. According to CMHC the number of subsidized units will fall to 540,800 in 2015, and decrease to 0 by 2030. By that time Ottawa will save $1.6 billion per year on the back of social housing and its residents.
Marie-José Corriveau, spokesperson for FRAPRU, says that ''the government must not be allowed to wash their hands of responsibility for funding these units'', adding that ''the issue is the availability of social housing with low rents over the long term, for the low-income residents currently living in affected social housing units, but also for the 1.5 million Canadian households in urgent need of social housing, including 325,000 in Québec and 627 500 in Ontario.''
FRAPRU calls for the continuation of the subsidies for social housing, beyond the expiration of the current financing agreements. The organization also demands the federal government plan for sufficient budgets for the renovation of these units whether they are under the direct responsibility of CMHC or that of the provinces and territories.
FRAPRU will escalate its pressure tactics over the coming weeks including organizing a major demonstration in Montreal on May 27th 2012.
For further information:
Véronique Laflamme (418) 956-3403