A national housing strategy is required to reduce and eventually end homelessness in Canada.
In Canada, we have 150,000 to 300,000 people who are visibly homeless, plus 450,000 to 900,000 people who are among the “hidden homeless.”
The homelessness crisis is about to get worse. In Canada, 365,000 low income households are at risk of losing their homes because the federal government refuses to renew subsidies for social housing. Meanwhile, the waiting list for social housing continues to grow: there are over 168,000 households on the waiting list in Ontario alone.
In 2009, Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, called the housing and homelessness crisis in Canada a “national emergency.” Homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 billion annually (including emergency shelters, social services, healthcare and corrections). Yet, Canada remains the only G8 nation in the world without a national housing strategy, and our government continues to cut funding to housing and homelessness programs.
We are calling for the federal government to ensure that everyone has the right to secure, adequate and affordable housing. We need a rights-based national housing strategy that is adequately funded and is developed in consultation with all levels of government (including First Nations, Métis governments, and Inuit Land Claim Organizations), key community stakeholders, and individuals experiencing homelessness or living in precarious housing situations.
More details about what a national housing strategy must include can be found on page 22 of the Dignity for All National Anti-Poverty Plan.