Homeless group wants national housing strategy to focus on poor and aboriginals

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WATCH ABOVE: Toronto to ask provincial and federal governments for more affordable housing funding – Sep 27, 2016

OTTAWA – Homelessness advocates are asking the federal government to focus billions in available money for housing on those who need it the most, including aboriginals and the working poor.

In a submission to consultations on a national housing strategy, the Canada Housing and Renewal Association says those groups often face greater pressure to find affordable housing.

The CHRA says in the submission being made public Tuesday that particular attention needs to be paid to Canada’s North where housing and the cost to repair existing units is more expensive than in the rest of the country.

In urban centres, the group argues there is a need to focus on affordability in the rental market and not just on reducing housing prices as part of a targeted approach to help those Canadians who face extra barriers to break the cycle of poverty.

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READ MORE: Canada’s housing strategy needs human rights pillar: UN

The CHRA says the objective of the plan should be to provide every Canadian access to safe, affordable housing by 2035. To do this, the CHRA is asking the government to expand and reform its flagship program dedicated to combating homelessness by boosting funding and focusing on the country’s chronically homeless, youth and indigenous peoples.

The group is also calling on the government to provide rental subsidies and funding for transitional homes for victims of domestic violence, veterans and LGBTQ Canadians.

“The fact is that there are a lot of Canadians for whom house prices simply don’t mean anything because that’s just completely out of reach,” says association executive director Jeff Morrison. “We need to focus as part of the strategy on those Canadians for whom the non-profit, the affordable housing sector, the social housing sector, is really their only option.”

The Liberals have made the housing strategy a cornerstone policy of their term that would create the backbone of its efforts to reduce poverty and bring down the cost of home ownership and rental units across the country.

READ MORE: Organizations call for affordable housing strategy in Canada

The national housing strategy is expected to be released by early 2017 at the latest.

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The federal government is also facing pressure to allocate billions of promised social infrastructure spending in the coming years on alleviating a social housing crunch in the country. Canada’s big city mayors have asked the Liberals to set aside $12.6 billion in the coming decade to help build thousands of affordable housing units nationwide.

Morrison said the spending on housing could help the Liberals meet their economic objectives of growing the economy and creating more jobs.

“You are never going to lift people out of poverty, you’re never going to create jobs, you’re never going to create educational and health opportunities unless safe affordable housing is provided for all Canadians,” Morrison said.

Next week, Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is scheduled to attend a United Nations housing and urban development summit where the Canadian program will be scrutinized.