National Housing Strategy Consultation Report Released

What We Heard – Shaping Canada’s National Housing Strategy was released on November 22, National Housing Day. The report summarizes the results of a four-month long consultation, and includes a commitment by the Federal Government to release a comprehensive National Housing Strategy (NHS) in 2017 that will be “national in nature but that recognizes regional housing conditions”.

As part of the consultation process, the BC government held a Housing Forum on September 13-14 and a policy workshop at the UBCM 2016 Convention, with representatives from BC Housing and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). On October 20, UBCM conveyed its submission to the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Minister responsible for the NHS. This submission summarized recent member resolutions around 5 key principles, addressing: 1) social housing, 2) purpose built rental housing, 3) supportive housing for vulnerable Canadians, 4) retrofits to support environmental outcomes, and 5) recognizing the unique and important role of local governments in relation to housing.

What We Heard – Shaping Canada’s National Housing Strategy highlights 11 themes coming out of the consultations.  Of these, three focus on the needs of vulnerable populations:

  • Helping those in greatest need;
  • Eliminating homelessness; and,
  • Realizing the right to housing.

 Four additional themes focused on improved tracking, coordination and collaboration:

  • Setting of clear outcomes and targets;
  • Adopting a systems perspective that better coordinates among housing initiatives;
  • Improving data collection, analysis and research; and,
  • Taking a collaborative approach to housing.

 The remaining themes address:

  • Helping Indigenous peoples achieve better housing outcomes for themselves;
  • Making housing more affordable;
  • Housing policies and programs that centre on people and place – meaning that housing solutions also address neighbourhood design, amenities and safety; and,
  • Delivering long-term and predictable funding.

 Respondents also favored an expanded role for CMHC that addressed financial tools to support affordable housing; the convening of national initiatives on affordable and sustainable housing; housing for Indigenous peoples on and off reserve; and enhanced research and analysis.

The results of an online survey conducted as part of the consultation provide insights into geographic variations in concerns and interests. Notably, with just over 13% of the population, more than 27% of the online submissions came from BC, likely highlighting the severity of housing challenges in BC.  Taken as a whole, opinions expressed by BC respondents are largely consistent with corresponding responses at the national level, and indicate a desire for increased affordability, sustainability, inclusivity and supports for quality of life.

What We Heard – Shaping Canada’s National Housing Strategy provides little insight into the content of the National Housing Strategy. In general terms, it indicates that the NHS will be collaborative, with coordination between all levels of government; and will address housing, social, economic and environmental results for Canadians while promoting greater alignment between these areas. The Federal Government is currently completing consultations with national Indigenous organizations prior to releasing the NHS in 2017.  Minister Duclos has also indicated that the NHS will inform investment decisions in the 2017 federal budget.

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