The Canadian government just released its housing strategy plan, called “What We Heard, Shaping Canada’s National Housing Strategy.” We included all 66 pages in its glory, but first here are some of the highlights. Let’s talk housing.
Helping those in greatest need
First, it is clear that Canadians are united in wanting better housing outcomes, and not just for themselves. They want improved housing for individuals and families with the most severe housing needs. This includes low-income Canadians, the homeless, and victims fleeing violence.
Helping Indigenous peoples achieve better housing outcomes for themselves
Indigenous peoples told us that we need a separate, but parallel strategy to address the unique housing challenges facing Métis, Inuit and First Nations peoples living on and off reserve, in cities and remote areas, and in the North. Housing levels also need to be on par with non-Indigenous peoples.
A fundamental goal of a National Housing Strategy should be to eliminate homelessness in Canada, and short of that, make it rare, brief and non-recurring. The needs of homeless Canadians, who fall at the extreme end of the housing spectrum, ought to be prioritized.
Making housing more affordable
Canadians said housing they can afford and that meets their needs was the most important housing outcome. The lack of affordable, suitable and adequate housing is especially a concern for low-income households, and other vulnerable Canadians across the country.
Adopting a housing systems perspective
Canadians expect a National Housing Strategy to better coordinate the various housing initiatives already in motion across the country. They also want to tackle housing needs across the entire continuum.
Housing policies and programs should centre on people and place
All recognized the need for housing solutions to be people-focused. Individuals and families need access to jobs, schools and supports in order to participate in their communities and help lift them out of poverty. Canadians also want housing located in safe neighbourhoods. In addition, day-care facilities, community services, public transportation, recreational and other amenities should be nearby.
Setting clear outcomes and targets
You told us that a national strategy must set clear outcomes and measurable targets in order to report back to Canadians on progress in achieving better housing.
Delivering long-term and predictable funding
We heard loud and clear from housing providers and developers that long-term and stable funding is necessary to plan and deliver more affordable housing. Similarly, access to innovative financing and affordable lands will also help alleviate affordable housing gaps.
Realizing the right to housing
Canadians said a national housing strategy should examine whether our laws, policies and practices are sufficient to prevent homelessness, forced evictions, and discrimination in having adequate housing.
Improving data collection, analysis and research
Canadians and housing experts stressed that we need better housing data to understand housing conditions and the housing needs of Canadians. Canadians also support developing informed, cost-effective policies, programs, and initiatives.
Taking a collaborative approach to housing
Canadians told us that a National Housing Strategy should take an integrated approach. The approach should build on the capacity of all orders of government and other partners. Clear collaboration and flexible solutions are necessary to achieve a national vision of housing.