Homelessness has always been policy choice. Here are the policies to end homelessness in Canada.
- A Federal commitment (with timelines and targets) to the prevention and elimination of homelessness with expanded federal investment in community-based homelessness responses:
- Build on the success of Reaching Home with enhanced funding for communities including:
- Maintaining the additional funding allocated for COVID-19 response (+$157M/year) refocusing that funding from emergency response to ending homelessness
- Expanding Rural and Remote Stream to $50M/year
- Developing a new funding stream at $75m/year to prevent homelessness for women, children and youth.
- A national definition of homelessness that accounts for the unique ways women, youth, Indigenous and racialized peoples experience homelessness.
- Elimination of veteran homelessness by 2025 including the creation of a federal veterans housing program modelled on the US HUD VASH voucher system.
- Alleviating poverty is key to preventing homelessness. A national guaranteed minimum income will ensure those in greatest need have minimum financial resources to help them meet their basic needs and prevent homelessness when times are tough. A guaranteed minimum income should be built on the following principles:
- It must not stigmatize or erroneously exclude participants through rules and conditions;
- It must be implemented comprehensively alongside other efforts to end homelessness;
- It must not penalize those who wish to work but still meet the income threshold; and,
- It must provide an adequate income to meet the cost of living.
- Construction of 300,000 new permanently affordable and supportive housing units and enhanced rental support for low-income Canadians to address Canada’s housing and homelessness crisis.
- Ensure prioritization of housing investment to people experiencing or at greatest risk of homelessness
- Expand the Canada Housing Benefit to better support prevention and elimination of homelessness.
- Meaningful implementation of the right to housing to surface and resolve inequities and systemic/structural breakdowns that contribute to homelessness and housing need. Immediate measures to implement the right to housing should include:
- Immediate appointment of a strong, well led, well resourced, and effective National Housing Advocate and National Housing Council.
- Ensuring human rights oversight and accountability in developing and implementing pandemic recovery plans including the involvement of persons with lived experience and communities directly affected in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the recovery strategy.
- Monitor impacts of recovery initiatives using disaggregated housing data, a GBA+ lens, and a race and ethnicity-based analysis to ensure housing investments are reaching the intended populations.
- Implement measures to curtail the impacts of financialization of rental housing markets by limiting the ability of large capital funds (including Real Estate Income Trusts – REITs) to purchase ‘distressed’ rental housing assets. When investors buy up rental housing, they deepen Canada’s housing crisis by taking existing rental housing off the market or by increasing rent making it unaffordable. This leaves lower income Canadians facing eviction, unable to afford rent or to live in the communities they choose. Following the pandemic there is an added risk that such predatory purchases will accelerate as small asset owners are impacted by rental loss and forced to sell their properties.
Options to prevent the effects of financialization could include:
- A national right of first refusal for government or non-profit housing providers to purchase multi-unit residential properties that are being sold, for conversion to permanently affordable or supportive housing.
- Implementing planning regulations and taxation measures to restrict or offset the loss of purpose-built rental housing.
- Creating a new funding envelop to enable non-profit housing providers to acquire properties that come on to the market before they are purchased by the predatory capital funds. This could include a vendor tax credit to create a financial incentive for the vendor of rental housing assets to sell to non-profit or government purchasers for conversion to permanently affordable or supportive housing.
- Indigenous peoples are dramatically over-represented among people experiencing homelessness in Canada. Indigenous People’s who do not live on reserve or in-home communities require a distinct housing strategy. We join the call for an adequately resourced, distinctions based, Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing and Homelessness Strategy that is developed and implemented by urban, rural and Northern Indigenous peoples and housing and service providers.
By joining this grassroots movement, you are helping to end homelessness in Canada once and for all. We have a plan. It is affordable. It will create jobs. And it will work.