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National housing strategy ‘a step in the right direction’: London advocate

From April 19 to 20, the city of Ottawa surveyed 1,400 individuals experiencing homelessness in the nation's capital, 334 of whom identified as newcomers to Canada.
From April 19 to 20, the city of Ottawa surveyed 1,400 individuals experiencing homelessness in the nation's capital, 334 of whom identified as newcomers to Canada. Global News Toronto

The federal government has released details on how they plan to make housing more affordable for Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has earmarked $40 billion over the next decade to go towards the Liberal government’s national housing strategy.

The plan will create 100,000 new housing units and repair another 300,000 over the next 10 years. Federal officials also say it will cut chronic homelessness by 50 per cent.

READ MORE: Liberals promise $40 billion over 10 years for National Housing Strategy, including personal subsidies

That’s music to the ears of Abe Oudshoorn, an advocate for the homeless. He thinks the strategy is a step in the right direction.

He says a change was desperately needed and the long-term commitment sends a strong message.

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“This is so important to communities across Canada, to have a real federal commitment to affordable housing,” said Oudshoorn.

“We’ve been working hard to try and make things work as well as they can at the provincial and municipal levels. What we’ve really wanted was a long-term commitment, both in strategy and funding, from the federal government.”

READ MORE: Reality check: Liberals’ housing strategy doesn’t go far enough, advocates say

He says the system was in desperate need of a shakeup.

“The tools that are in place created what we have, if we want something different we need to change the tools,” said Oudshoorn.

“To help people avoid homelessness or to get folks off of the social housing wait list and directly into housing, something like a housing supplement to bridge that gap is a key and timely strategy.”

READ MORE: Child poverty up in Canada since 1989, new research finds

“Safe, secure and affordable housing is more than a roof over someone’s head; it’s a place to call home, start anew and build a future,” said London Mayor Matt Brown.

“London has been an advocate for a national housing strategy that works for all Canadians. With nearly 3,000 people in London waiting for affordable housing, we are ready to act quickly and do everything we can because we know that housing is key to lifting people out of poverty.”

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The government hopes the strategy will lift 530,000 families out of that core housing need category, and help 385,000 more avoid losing their homes.

Trudeau says the government is still finalizing a separate plan to help those in Indigenous communities.

In all, the plan pulls together almost $10 billion in planned spending, $11.2 billion in housing money outlined in this year’s budget, and $4.8 billion the Liberals promised to keep spending on affordable housing providers.

The other $14 billion will come from provinces, municipalities and the private sector.