Housing as a Part of Neigbourhood Renewal
Whereas: Canada is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, with Manitoba being one of the provinces hardest hit. Winnipeg’s vacancy rate is about 1%, Thompson’s about .2% and Brandon’s less than .1%.
1.5 million Canadian households are in "core housing need". This means that they are spending more than one third of their income on rent, or are living in inadequate or overcrowded homes, putting them at significant risk of losing their housing, their health and their spirit. One third of Winnipeggers and Manitobans who rent, live in core housing need.
3.3 million Canadian households live in housing that is considered substandard. Canada's housing supply deficit - the gap between the number of new households and the amount of new housing - is growing at 220,000 households annually.
Federal tax structures and the lack of a national housing strategy, have, over the past 40 years, acted to shut down the creation of social and affordable rental housing. Our existing stock is aging and is not being replaced. At the same time rental stock it is being eroded through conversion to condominium.
All of these factors have escalated rents to make them unaffordable to a growing number of people, especially the most vulnerable, (fixed income, disabled, new Canadians and Aboriginal people).
Whereas: Affordable housing is a key piece of neighbourhood renewal and a necessary foundation for neighbourhood and family stabilization. Families are the building blocks of community and stable families create contributing citizens. As housing costs increase, people are forced to spend food money on rent, making personal debt and food banks sad necessities for survival. When housing needs are met, children do not need to move from school to school, parents have reduced stress and the means to provide the necessities for their families (food, winter clothing, transport, school supplies etc.)
Whereas: To meet the need for affordable housing, the following measures need to be taken.
Provide incentives to the private sector to create affordable rental housing.
Regulate the conversion of rental stock to condominium when vacancy rates are too low.
Create 1500 units of social (RGI) housing in Manitoba each year for five years.
Create a national housing strategy that will reintroduce the federal government into the provision of social housing.
Whereas: The City of Winnipeg is currently committed to the creation of affordable housing through its maintenance of the Housing Rehabilitation Investment Reserve (HRIR), however, the HRIR budget allocation of $1.468 million is 0.18% of Winnipeg's 2010 Operating Budget and is not sufficient to address the current situation given the severity of Winnipeg's affordable rental housing shortage. The HRIR currently provides funding for housing development and renewal to the five Housing Improvement Zones (HIZ) and the Manitoba Urban Native Housing Association, however, numerous non-HIZ communities are at risk of continued decline and are unable to access the HRIR at the current allocation. The City has recently invested a great deal in seeking input on its role in housing. Two documents direct the city to be more proactive in this area and outline how this could be achieved: first, from the City’s Planning, Property & Development Department, Innovative Practices in the Provision of Affordable Housing and second, through its SpeakUp Winnipeg process, the Complete Communities Direction Strategy. In addition, the Right to Housing Coalition wrote Creating Rental Housing – a Role for the City of Winnipeg which proposes many similar measures. This was presented to the City’s Housing Steering Committee.
The Province of Manitoba has committed to the creation of 1500 units of social housing over the next five years and is also in the process of rehabilitating much of their housing stock with a significant investment.
The Government of Canada has had a limited commitment to housing, but if Bill C-304 is passed, the Federal government would be required to develop a national housing strategy.
Whereas: Providing housing makes economic sense in two ways: First, it can be used to create local employment, using local labour to revitalize its own community. Additionally, Canada’s social housing provides a key market for the quick expansion of green employment, as much of it is aging and has not been retrofitted. These jobs, including the training for these jobs, should be linked to low-income Canadians, including social housing tenants, who need these jobs the most. In this way, the greening of Canada’s social housing can help to provide a pathway out of poverty.
Second, providing housing is cost effective when compared to the cost of dealing with the issues created by a housing shortage such as homelessness. There are substantial economic costs associated with failing to address homelessness. It costs on average $48,000 a year to leave someone on the street versus $28,000 a year to house them. Long-term social housing is one of the most cost-efficient ways to house someone.
Be It Resolved That: The Canadian CED Network will continue to work with the Right to Housing Coalition to advance the following resolutions:
- The City of Winnipeg use the planning tools and powers at its disposal to encourage the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing. In addition, the City continue to fund the current HRIR and UNHA, increase allocation to $2 million to the existing HIZ, and increase the HRIR proportionally to fund the new HIZ.
- Province of Manitoba follow through on its commitment to create social housing and to explore ways that it can increase the supply of affordable rental housing.
- The Government of Canada enact Bill C-304, or if it fails to do so, find another way to create a national housing strategy