Home Blog November 2015 On National Housing Day – A Call For Investment in Affordable Housing

On National Housing Day – A Call For Investment in Affordable Housing

On National Housing Day – A Call For Investment in Affordable Housing
Food banks consistently report that the high cost of housing is one of the most important drivers of the need for food assistance. There is not enough affordable housing to meet the need, leaving far too many Canadians to use their food budgets to pay the rent.
If we do not act now, housing is set to become even more unaffordable.
Support for Affordable Housing is Falling
Canada’s patchwork supply of affordable rental housing rests on the foundation of social housing, which serves as protection against homelessness for the most vulnerable Canadians. Social housing extends from the idea that households should not need to pay more than 30% of their income on housing that is in good condition and has enough room for all household members – and that it makes moral and practical sense to subsidize adequate housing for those who cannot afford it.
Since the 1950s, social housing in Canada has been supported by billions of dollars transferred to housing providers by the federal government via Social Housing Operating Agreements. This system is now in jeopardy as these agreements expire. Funding has already decreased from $2 billion to $1.6 billion per year and will continue to decrease until it reaches zero in 2040.
The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association estimates that 334,000 households are at high risk of losing their homes as housing providers are forced to raise currently-affordable rents when their agreements with the federal government expire.
Income Levels and Housing Costs Don’t Match
To take just one example of widespread labour market struggles, four million Canadians work in sales and service jobs and earn a median annual income of $17,700. In Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver, the prospect of paying only 30% of income on rent at this income level (i.e. $443 per month) is more fantasy than reality. It is even more of a fantasy for a single person on social assistance, who takes in only $8,000 per year.
Action At the Federal Level
We are pleased to see that Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to making affordable housing a priority of his government’s infrastructure spending, and that he has promised to support municipalities to maintain affordable rents in co-op housing.
It will take long-term vision, commitment and a focus on action to follow through effectively on these promises. To this end, our HungerCount 2015 report recommends a more specific commitment that we would like to see from the new federal government – the re-investment of half the savings from Social Housing Operating Agreements into a new Social Housing Operating Fund, which would cover costs related to rent subsidies, capital repairs, maintenance and retrofits.
If we are going to really address one of the most important drivers of food bank use, we need concrete, specific action, and we need it now.

Don’t miss!

Hunger Facts



of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)