National Housing Strategy Highlights

The federal government released its National Housing Strategy (NHS), which will guide the delivery of approximately $40 billion in funding over 10 years. Key elements of the strategy include a National Housing Co-Investment Fund, a new rental benefit, community housing initiatives, and an expanded homelessness program.

UBCM membership has consistently called for increased funding and supports to address affordability, including several resolutions requesting a National Housing Strategy that date back to 1999. In August, UBCM convened a Special Committee on Housing that has been meeting monthly to work towards a series of recommendations on affordability to the federal and provincial governments.

The $40 billion in funding announced in the NHS includes:

  • $15.9 billion for the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, that will support investment in new housing and repair of existing affordable and community housing,
  • $4 billion for the Canada Housing Benefit, that will deliver approximately $2,500 per year in rent supports to recipient households, and will be co-developed and delivered with provinces and territories,
  • $2.2 billion for the Homeless Partnering Strategy, a redesigned successor to the existing program that will draw on input from an Advisory Committee on Homelessness, and,
  • $4.3 billion for a new Community Housing Initiative, to maintain affordability for approximately 330,000 households in community housing, amongst other supports.

The strategy also includes targets to:

  • Create 100,000 new housing units
  • Repair and renew 300,000 existing housing units, and
  • Reduce the number of chronically homeless shelter users by 50%.

The Strategy will be supported by new legislation anticipated within a year that will require the federal government to maintain a housing strategy and report to Parliament on housing targets and outcomes. A new Federal Housing Advocate will also make recommendations to the CMHC and responsible Minister on barriers that Canadians face in accessing affordable housing.  

Local governments are identified as collaborators in implementing the Strategy, which also identifies a role for municipal representation on a new National Housing Council, that will “promote participatory and evidence-based analysis to support the National Housing Strategy” starting in 2018.

The FCM and others have welcomed the NHS because it reestablishes federal leadership on housing. Other reactions have been tentative, largely as a result of a lack of details on how funds will be distributed across the country, and concerns surrounding the potential slow rollout of funds. The Strategy relies heavily on matching funding from the provinces and territories that will likely contribute to delays in implementation due to the additional time required for negotiations. Some have also questioned the near exclusive focus on the needs of vulnerable populations, while failing to address the needs of middle class Canadians priced out of unaffordable markets.

UBCM will continue to monitor the implementation of the Strategy and look for further opportunities for local government input. The UBCM Special Committee on Housing will also consider the implications of the NHS as they work towards completion of their final report in January.

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