Does the Federal 2021 Budget give us more Affordable Housing?
Habitat for Humanity Canada had called for increased investment in the National Housing Strategy and is pleased to see the Government move forward $750 million in funding for the National Housing Co-Investment Fund and add $1.5 billion to its Rapid Housing Initiative, with at least 25% going to women-focused housing. These, combined with investments in affordable housing innovation, a homelessness strategy, rental and transitional housing, will provide badly needed housing and smooth the path to affordable homeownership for more families across Canada. (Excerpt from Habitat Canada Media Release)
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In that context, the budget contains some important new investments in housing and homelessness, building on the National Housing Strategy. However, the 2021 Budget does not go far enough or fast enough. It does make some important progress toward ending homelessness a goal the Federal Government has aimed to achieve by 2030.
The government has a plan to invest $2.5 billion and reallocate $1.3 billion in existing funding to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units. And, the government will introduce Canada’s first national tax on vacant or underused residential property owned by foreign non-residents.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $2.5 billion over seven years to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, including:
- An additional $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative to address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by providing them with adequate affordable housing in short order. At least 25 percent of this funding would go towards women-focused housing projects. Overall, this new funding will add a minimum of 4,500 new affordable units to Canada’s housing supply, building on the 4,700 units already funded in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement through its $1 billion investment.
- $600 million over seven years to renew and expand the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund. To date, this program has committed funding to support the creation of over 17,600 units, including more than 16,300 affordable housing units and units for persons with accessibility challenges. This new funding would support the creation of up to 12,700 more units.
- $315.4 million over seven years through the Canada Housing Benefit, to increase direct financial assistance for low-income women and children fleeing violence to help with their rent payments.
- $118.2 million over seven years through the Federal Community Housing Initiative, to support community housing providers that deliver long-term housing to many of our most vulnerable.
Budget 2021 proposes to advance and reallocate $1.3 billion, on a cash basis, of previously announced funding, including:
- $750 million in funding under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which is proposed to be advanced to 2021-22 and 2022-23. This will accelerate the creation of 3,400 new units, and the repair of 13,700 units.
- $250 million in funding under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to support the construction, repair, and operating costs of an estimated 560 units of transitional housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence. This targeted funding is being reallocated to make sure the government delivers on its commitments and reinforces the government’s efforts to address gender-based violence.
- $300 million in funding in 2021-22 and 2022-23 from the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which will be allocated to support the conversion of vacant commercial property into housing. This funding will target the conversion of excess commercial property space into 800 units of market-based rental housing.
We acknowledge this government’s commitment towards continuing to invest in the National Housing Strategy to support those most vulnerable for shelter, supportive and transitional housing. However, more than 1.6 million Canadians live in inadequate or unaffordable housing.
The need for affordable housing has been hit by the 3 waves of the pandemic and the escalating housing markets across the country are creating a perfect storm contributing to the nationwide shortage of housing.
And these challenges have only continued to bring to the forefront that housing is the foundation for health, safety, wellbeing, and its stability is crucial to people’s ability to exit poverty.
As stated by Julia Deans CEO Habitat Canada in recent comments to the House of Commons Finance Committee, “A home also serves as a fiscal anchor for so many, allowing them to build a solid financial foundation and improve their health and well-being”.
Habitat for Humanity presented its recommendations in the pre-submission for the 2021 federal budget these included the following:
- Advance the National Housing Strategy with increased investments and continued attention to improving the application process, and terms and conditions for program participants.
- Increase access to land for affordable housing providers, including through the Federal Lands Initiative and a new property acquisitions program.
- Incent other orders of government to facilitate the creation of more affordable housing, including through land designations, building, and zoning processes, and differentiated taxes and fees.
We asked the Federal government to commit to the goal that all Canadians can afford a home that meets their needs by 2030 backed by a comprehensive plan for achieving this goal. We will continue to work collaboratively and in partnership with all levels of government to help achieve this.
However, we do need all of us in the affordable housing boat to continue to advocate for safe inclusive, affordable housing solutions in Ontario so that all boats rise.
With your support, we can keep affordable housing on the agenda with all levels of government. Help make the #CostOfHome something we all can afford.
About Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.