CHRA Advocacy: Advancing your priorities for the 2023 budget
02 Feb 2023
By Jacob Gorenkoff, Acting Director, Policy & Government Relations
On January 30th, CHRA sent a letter to the federal government asking that they take stock of how they can make life fairer, more inclusive, and more affordable for people across Canada.
Our solution? More community housing.
A public opinion poll published on January 18 by Abacus Data reveals that the cost and accessibility of housing is becoming an increasing source of concern for voters. Scotiabank’s report published the same day, Canadian Housing Affordability Hurts, provides evidence of what our sector already knows: housing has become unaffordable and inaccessible. Their report also acknowledges that market-priced housing will likely never be accessible to many households.
The 2021 census reveals that over 1.5 million households are in core housing need, yet Canada only has 655,000 units of affordable housing stock. In other words, Canada currently needs 845,000 more affordable housing units, and demand continues to grow. Despite this, a November 2022 report from the Office of the Auditor General found that National Housing Strategy (NHS) programs haven’t created the targeted number of units, and many of those created are not affordable to low-income households.
After consulting with CHRA members from communities across Canada, we made two recommendations to begin addressing these gaps.
Equip affordable housing providers with the means to keep creating housing
Over the last year, the cost of creating housing has gone up, and federal funding to create housing has gone down. The impact? It has become increasingly difficult – and in some cases impossible – to create affordable housing using NHS programs.
Interest rates have risen significantly over the last year. Those increases mean that organizations are able to secure less money in loans to pay for their projects. At the same time, grant funding through the NHS’ flagship program, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), has dropped significantly. This significant reduction is happening at a time when more grant funding is needed, not less.
CHRA estimates that the NHCF requires $4 billion more per year just to continue building affordable housing at the same rate prior to the decrease in grant funding. Without the additional funds, it is impossible to use the NHCF to create affordable housing, causing the program to fall significantly short of its targets.
At the same time, we must recognize that NHS programs are not working in this economic environment of higher interest rates and construction costs. If the federal government wants affordable housing to be created, they must engage with the community housing sector to re-envision programs that can facilitate housing creation more quickly, sustainably, and effectively.
Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by funding an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy
Even though 87% of Indigenous peoples live in urban, rural, or northern (URN) areas, the federal government has yet to co-develop and fund a dedicated URN Indigenous housing strategy. This is despite the fact that federal cabinet ministers have been mandated to implement UNDRIP, which includes a mandate to engage with Indigenous partners to co-develop and fund an URN Indigenous Housing Strategy.
This lapse continues centuries of colonialism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples.
CHRA has called on ministers to work with the National Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Coalition – which includes national, regional, and local Indigenous-led organizations – to design and deliver a For Indigenous, By Indigenous housing strategy. Working with the Coalition can fulfill the government’s mandate of implementing UNDRIP, while expediting the rollout of funding for URN Indigenous housing. Only an Indigenous-led approach can adequately deliver holistic, serviced-based community housing that empowers Indigenous communities.
CHRA has recommended that the government adopt the recommendation of their National Housing Council by providing a minimum of $6.3 billion as initial funding to begin implementation of an URN Indigenous Housing Strategy.
Want to read more about CHRA’s recommendations to the federal government? Check out our most recent letter.