The Federal government has pledged to invest $4 billion to create a new housing subsidy of sorts geared towards families and individuals in “housing need”.
Canadians who either live in social housing or are on a waitlist for social housing, and those who live in private housing but struggle to make ends meet will all be eligible for what the government is calling the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB).
Households that meet the “housing need” criteria, will receive an average of $2,500 a year — the government expects 300,000 households to be recipients of this Benefit.
The CHB is just one pillar in a broader National Housing Strategy laid out today by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that is the culmination of a year-long municipal, provincial and federal discussion on Canada’s housing affordability crisis.
The Strategy also pledges to cut homelessness by 50 percent over the next 10 years, and build up to 100,000 new affordable homes. The latter policy will be catalysed by a government plan to free up $200 million in surplus federal lands and buildings, that will be then made available to developers of affordable housing at at a small cost, or no cost at all.
“We have to stop thinking about housing as a problem, but more as a solution — it’s the best tool we have to address other significant social challenges,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in an announcement in Toronto late Wednesday afternoon.
The mechanics of Trudeau’s grand housing plan, laid out in very accessible fashion here, will include the creation of a National Co-Investment Housing Fund that will finance the construction of 60,000 new affordable homes, specifically geared towards those fleeing domestic violence, seniors, Indigenous people, and people with mental health issues and disabilities.
“At the end of the day, this strategy is a breakthrough for 1.7 million families who can’t find a decent home they can afford,” said Jenny Gerbasi of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in a statement.
The strategy, however, makes little mention of addressing housing affordability issues for the middle-class in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, many of whom have been priced out of the market, except for a brief paragraph which pledges to “make it easier for self-employed Canadians to get a mortgage.”
No details of how exactly that will take place were mentioned — in fact, come January 2018, a new set of mortgage rules introduced by federal regulators will actually make it much harder for the average Canadian to qualify for a mortgage.