Mar. 22, 2022

Building momentum for housing solutions

The pandemic has made painfully clear how important it is to have a safe and decent home and that far too many people don’t have the homes they need. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, we face continued economic and societal uncertainty. But we are also at a pivotal moment for housing affordability in this country, one we must harness to implement solutions that result in more families having safe and affordable places to call home.

All three orders of government are clearly aware of the impact of the housing crisis in our communities and seeking solutions. Most recently, the February 8th Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force Report shared bold recommendations to increase housing supply. And at the February 24th National Housing Supply Summit, housing leaders joined the federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to discuss Canada’s housing supply challenges and collaborative solutions. Whether it’s about market rate supply or much needed affordable housing, this challenge is being felt across the country, and in communities large and small.

Tackling the housing crisis

How do we move forward on an issue as complex as housing? Collaboration, trying new things and pursuing solutions that could scale up or be replicated in other communities is a start. For example, the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force recommends creating 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by increasing density, reducing political and systemic roadblocks and costs to building, as well as incenting municipalities. These and many other meaningful Task Force recommendations deserve focused attention. The National Housing Supply Summit saw important conversations about how to maximize federal investments and intergovernmental relations for the greatest impact – both are essential ingredient to tackling this crisis.

Investing in all aspects of the housing system

We also see consensus building on the need to develop affordable housing for marginalized communities and the benefits this will generate for all of us. At Habitat for Humanity, we provide people who are experiencing barriers to homeownership with an opportunity to buy their own home. This includes Black Canadians, who have one of the lowest homeownership rates in the country. Our work with CMHC to help address the racial homeownership gap and provide Black families with more opportunities to build equity through homeownership will strengthen communities across the country, improving our collective prosperity. We need to reduce barriers to build more affordable housing. We must reduce barriers blocking pathways to affordable homeownership and invest in all parts of the housing system so marginalized communities can access decent and affordable housing. Build more, build faster but also build smarter to ensure we are providing what is needed.

Collaborating for change

This housing crisis needs all hands on deck. We need all orders of government to cooperate and fully leverage their capacity and authority: setting targets and modernizing zoning at the municipal level; strengthening regulatory frameworks and investing in housing provincially; and, scaling up and expanding successful programs under the National Housing Strategy at the federal level.

The upcoming federal budget is an opportunity to introduce and support the creation of more affordable housing, drawing on these solutions raised in the Task Force report and the National Housing Supply Summit. This is the time to move forward on solutions that will deliver real results for the individuals and families who are counting on us. And to move forward together.