Housing overview

Housing is a fundamental human right, but for about 1.7 million households in Canada, housing that is affordable, in decent shape and suitable for them or their families is simply not available. When people can’t access housing that meets their needs, the impacts ripple throughout their lives, the economy, and our communities.

Maytree works with civil society, people with lived experience of homelessness and housing need, and governments at all levels to improve the housing system and ensure everyone in Canada has a place to call home.

As with our work on poverty, we look to find solutions to homelessness and housing need using a human rights approach. We work on advancing solutions that will further the recognition and protection of housing as a human right, contribute to the progressive realization of this right, prioritize those in greatest need, pave the way for accountability mechanisms, and include ongoing and active participation of those with lived experience of homelessness and inadequate housing at all stages of decision-making.

Our work on housing includes shaping and sharing policy ideas, investing in innovative solutions, and supporting partners working to strengthen communities.

Relevant publications


Published on 25/06/2018

We must embed the right to housing in legislation and support that commitment with strong institutions and procedures that empower Canadians to claim their rights, ensure meaningful accountability, and achieve better housing outcomes.

In his address to the UN General Assembly last fall, Prime Minister Trudeau made it clear that Canada’s advocacy on human rights abroad needed to be backed up by greater protections for human rights at home. With the release of the National Housing Strategy last November, the federal government took an important step in that […]

Read more


Published on 31/05/2018

Submission to CMHC’s National Consultation on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing

Submission to CMHC’s National Consultation on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing In November 2017, the federal government published Canada’s first National Housing Strategy – a 10-year, $40-billion plan to give more Canadian’s a place to call home. Crucially, the Strategy recognized that “housing rights are human rights” and announced new legislation, institutions, and programs […]

Read more


Published on 22/02/2018

To make effective Inclusionary Zoning possible, the province should let go of the desire to control how cities make decisions. Instead, it should focus on how it can work with cities to create affordable rental housing options.

In December 2017, the Ontario government published draft regulations on the use of Inclusionary Zoning in Ontario. These regulations outline limits on how municipalities can require affordable housing units to be built as part of residential developments. In an open letter to Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn, Alan Broadbent writes that to make effective Inclusionary […]

Read more


Published on 12/12/2017

The recently released National Housing Strategy sets targets for reducing homelessness and housing need, and a policy and investment approach for the federal government’s role in achieving that. There are five reasons in particular that make this long-term plan more than just the dollar’ value of the investment.

Through the years, Canada has had plenty of experience with “National Strategies” that are neither national nor strategic. Public policy observers could be forgiven for being cynical when the federal government released a National Housing Strategy on November 22. Stakeholders had been calling for a National Housing Strategy for at least a decade to assure […]

Read more

Policy brief

Published on 21/07/2017

Identifying ways that the federal government can establish a meaningful commitment to realizing the right to housing at the centre of its national housing strategy.

Over the past year the federal government has been working to develop a national housing strategy which is expected to be finalized in the fall. Details of the upcoming national housing strategy announced so far point to the government’s response to many of the central themes raised in its national consultation. This response includes long-term […]

Read more


Published on 28/06/2017

Does the City of Toronto really need to control all of its social housing? City council should be open to new ways of thinking and not be paralyzed by the idea that it has to maintain control over the entire social housing portfolio.

Social housing in Toronto is at a turning point. After years of underinvestment, years filled with reports, task forces, and much talk but less action, we might finally get to answer the question: does the City of Toronto really need to control and manage all of its social housing? Could it transfer stewardship of some […]

Read more