CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing: Eliminating homelessness and strengthening supportive housing
27 Apr 2023
By CHRA staff
CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing is an extensive policy document that will help inform CHRA’s advocacy efforts over the coming decade as we work towards our goal of ensuring that all who live in Canada have access to safe, affordable, appropriate housing.
Canada’s homeless population is growing, with individuals often unable to effectively access housing and much-needed services. It is imperative that providers maintain and grow service offerings to get those experiencing homelessness off the streets, and into supportive housing: a proven, cost-effective way to help people live stable and productive lives.
Ensuring there is a home for all requires eliminating homelessness, strengthening the existence of, and increasing access to supportive housing, and expanding on the relationship between housing and health. Read on to learn more.
Working to eliminate homelessness
Data from the Canadian Rental Housing Index (CRHI) shows how far out of reach housing affordability has become for renters across Canada. According to the CRHI, over 18 percent of renters are in deep core housing need, and over 40 percent are in core housing need, spending more than 50, and 30 percent of their income on housing, respectively. With housing becoming increasingly unaffordable, federal intervention is increasingly needed to reduce and eliminate homelessness.
Reaching Home is Canada’s federal homelessness strategy. Active since 2019, its overarching goal is to eliminate chronic homelessness by fiscal year 2027-2028. According to Budget 2022, more than $3 billion has been allocated to Reaching Home since its creation.
While direly needed, Reaching Home is currently not structured in a way that ensures its goal is reached. With proper targets and timelines and funding to match, it would be possible for Reaching Home to eliminate homelessness entirely. This would move more Canadians from homeless to housed, reduce suffering among vulnerable individuals, and be a meaningful step toward addressing Canada’s housing and homelessness crisis.
Recommendation: The revision and expansion of Reaching Home to include clear performance metrics and to endow it with sufficient funding to fully eliminate chronic homelessness by 2028.
Increasing support services
Ongoing consultation with CHRA members has revealed a pan-Canadian experience: supportive services are largely inaccessible and too rigidly structured to reflect the complex needs of Canada’s homeless populations. As these supports are related to health and social services, the issues lay in large part at the provincial, and territorial level.
The inaccessibility and rigidity of supportive services means that many in need of support fall through the cracks. To remedy this, there must be improved coordination and flexibility in the provision of supportive services. This includes recognizing that individuals have different needs at different times, and that timing and funding caps impede vulnerable individuals from receiving adequate support. Flexibility is needed to ensure that the goals of Reaching Home can be achieved. The federal government must incentivize these changes to occur at the provincial and territorial level.
Placing conditions on The Canada Health Transfer and Canada Social Transfer payments to incentivize the growth of supportive services will help end homelessness, strengthen supportive housing, and create a Canadian healthcare system that is inclusive for all.
Recommendation: The creation of conditions on Canada Health Transfer and Canada Social Transfer funds that reflect the goals of Reaching Home, including increased access, flexibility, and funding to incentivize the growth of supportive services, to entrench the relationship between housing and health in federal policy.
Developing more supportive housing
The current state of supportive services in Canada is allowing far too many vulnerable individuals to fall through the cracks.
Supporting the goal of Reaching Home to eliminate chronic homelessness by 2028 requires ensuring there are safe, stable affordable housing options available, complete with accessible, flexible, coordinated supportive services. Creating a Healthier Communities Transformation Fund would support Reaching Home by financing the work of housing and service providers and allowing successful supportive housing models to be explored and brought to scale.
Recommendation: The creation of a Healthier Communities Transformation Fund that finances the operation, exploration, and growth of supportive housing models to complement Reaching Home.
Want to learn more about CHRA’s recommendations for eliminating homelessness? Check out CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing.