“Affordable housing in Canada is in crisis and the federal government’s long-term cuts to housing investments continue to make a bad situation worse.” That’s the dire warning in the housing chapter of the 2012 Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, released on Thursday. The termination of the short-term housing spending from the 2009 federal ‘stimulus’ budget sets Canada, once again, on a downward trajectory in terms of the dollars and cents that are necessary to support a robust national housing plan.
“A budget for the rest of us,” the title of the 2012 AFB, sets out a fiscally and socially responsible national spending plan that meets urgent priorities and sets Canada on the path to an equitable and healthy future.
Housing is a critical social investment, and the 2012 AFB sets out a plan for $2 billion in federal housing investments over the next three years. The funding would be directed to construction of new affordable homes, repairs to existing run-down low-income housing, initiatives to prevent and end homelessness and ongoing support for aging affordable housing built in previous years.
All eyes are now on the federal budget, which is expected to be released on March 29, 2012, to see if the federal government continues its austerity agenda of drastic cuts, or shifts to pragmatic investments in addressing urgent social needs.
Federal housing dollars are usually matched by contributions from provincial, territorial and municipal governments, along with affordable housing providers. So, that $2 billion federal investment would lead to total housing investments of $4 billion or more annually.
The federal government has calculated that affordable housing investments create one of the most powerful economic multipliers, generating jobs and other economic activity, along with much-needed housing. In 2011, the federal government estimated that every dollar invested in housing generated $1.50 in jobs and other economic activity.
The Wellesley Institute is one of the partners in the AFB process, and crafted the housing chapter.
A good home is one of the most important determinants of health for individuals and the entire population. For more information on housing, homeless and health, please read the Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada 2010 report.