Publications, opinions, and speeches
Foundations for a National Housing Strategy
Published on 24/10/2016
Submission to the Let’s Talk Housing consultation
As a vision for the National Housing Strategy, the Government of Canada has stated that “all Canadians have access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford.” Our submission’s focus is on defining what we mean by “housing that meets their needs.” We propose that, at a minimum, this means that housing choices guarantee affordability, quality and security. This submission highlights promising policy and investments opportunities to help achieve this goal.
Defining affordability, quality and security
Affordability – Housing is essential to people’s overall well-being. For housing to meet this standard, it must be available at a cost that leaves people with enough money to meet their households’ needs and participate in society. That generally means that people have good options that cost no more than 30 per cent of their gross household income.
Quality – Housing must provide safe and healthy living conditions, in form and function. This goes beyond adequacy, state of good repair and the absence of overcrowding. To meet this standard, we need to ensure suitability and take into account diverse needs for accessibility and supports, and the ability to access local transportation, employment and community services.
Security – An essential element of housing that meets people’s needs is the availability of secure long-term tenure – someplace where people can confidently build a home for the long term without the risk of eviction. Security includes both legal arrangements and financial predictability.
No single policy or set of policies can guarantee all of these standards. But in each of these areas, the federal government has significant opportunities to show leadership and contribute to solving our country’s housing challenges.
Affordability – Housing supply
- Financial instruments and investments that would encourage and/or support affordable rental housing
- Infrastructure investments
- Tax policy
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Affordability – Housing demand
- Portable housing benefits or other housing-related income supports
- Invest in homes that are physically accessible, safe, and in communities where people can access services and social, educational, employment opportunities
- Reinvest in rental homes in the private market
- Incent construction of purpose-built rental and co-op housing (which have more secure tenure than condos on secondary market)
- Invest in rent-geared-to-income housing and existing social housing stock
The National Housing Strategy is an opportunity for the federal government to establish a leadership role in housing – one that aligns the policy tools and investments from across the federal government, and sets a new foundation of partnership with all levels of government, the housing sector and the Canadian public. Through collective efforts, we can make meaningful progress towards fulfilling the right of everyone in Canada to have a home that meets their needs.