The Need

  • In 2006, the United Nations called housing and homelessness in Canada a “national emergency,” a finding confirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing after his official fact-finding mission to Canada in 2007.
  • Social housing is not sufficiently valued by government and has been allowed to deteriorate and lag far behind the need. In 1994 the federal government stopped funding new social housing construction. Since then federal housing programs have been short-term, under-funded and have often created or maintained housing that is not accessible to those that need it the most. There has been a steady decline in construction of social housing in Canada by all three levels of government.
  • As housing costs increase and income and welfare benefits remain grossly inadequate, people are forced to spend food money on rent, making personal debt, pan-handling and food banks sad necessities for survival. Ironically, existing policies that provide money to improve and repair neighbourhoods raise the cost of housing, resulting in the displacement of the poor and the creation of homelessness. Such programs must also provide social housing (where rent is geared to income) for those who are being displaced.
  • Aboriginal housing agencies have waiting lists including thousands of families and individuals on and off reserve. Canada is in violation of its treaty obligations to house First Nations People. Housing for new Canadians, seniors in poverty and people with physical or mental disabilities who have special housing needs is grossly insufficient.