Housing is a fundamental human need that has attracted the attention of many nations due to the continued upsurge in population. It is defined as “a residential environment that includes, in addition to the physical structure used by man for shelter, all necessary services, facilities, equipment, and devices for the family’s physical and mental health and social well-being,” (Pomeroy, 2018). Affordable housing refers to lodging units for members of the lower-income bracket in society. Though various countries denote affordable housing in a different ways, the underlying principle is similar: affordable housing ought to meet the housing requirements of moderate and low-income families. In collaboration with certain developers, the Government of Canada has adopted several initiatives to address the rising demand for affordable housing, with a particular emphasis on public-private partnerships (PPP) to create these units. This paper will analyze the affordable housing policy in Canada.
Need that the Affordable Housing Policy is intended to Address
Affordably priced, decent, and safe housing is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Housing and health are inextricably linked, as research has shown. Mental health worsens, and individuals experience increased stress when they lack safe and adequate housing. Without affordable housing, individuals may have to cut down on food or prescriptions to make ends meet. Each needs cheap housing to maintain their health, yet so many struggles to obtain good housing in Canada, one of the world’s wealthiest nations. In Canada, there is now a terrible housing crisis. While experts recommend spending not over 30% of our income on mere housing, millions of Canadians who earn low income over 30% of their income on simply housing expenditures (Pomeroy, 2018). What makes this problem worse is that it is not limited to housing. Budgeting becomes almost tricky for individuals living on minimum wage since so much of their money goes toward rent.
Additionally, housing costs have been rising faster than household incomes, and the supply of reasonably priced homes has been declining. The Canadian government unveiled the National Housing Strategy (NHS) in 2017 and committed to re-establishing federal leadership on affordable housing. However, two years into the strategy’s implementation, analysts have criticized the strategy’s insufficient investment levels and the limited number of affordable housing units being created (Pomeroy, 2018). The survival of the national housing tactic will be determined by the backing up of one of the extra parties after the election brought about by the Liberal minority government.
The upsurge in the stock of affordable housing is a time-honored approach that is increasing the ability of the most vulnerable to afford to house. Cooperative social housing, affordable housing units, and public housing have been deemed a cost-effective and long-term approach to increasing affordability. This can further enhance the health and well-being of the residents who are low-income earners (Pomeroy, 2018). Tenants who have consistently cheap rentals may allocate a more reasonable part of their low income to health-enhancing necessities like medicine and nutritious food. Constructing societal rental housing aids the renters who are indirectly influenced by the housing by aiding in stabilizing marketplace rentals and reducing the pressure on the overpriced rental markets.
The Current Affordable Housing Policy in Canada
In Canada, housing policy is divided across the three levels of government, resulting in the absence of a clear strong-Canadian strategy for housing. Housing policy directly affects homelessness since the availability of secure and cheap housing is critical for those living in severe poverty to receive and keep shelter. While most industrialized nations have a robust national housing plan, Canada does not. The Canadian government’s $2.5 billion RHI program assists needy people and families locate a safe and affordable place to live (Pomeroy, 2018). These kinds of investments may aid in the development of the people in the middle class as well as those struggling to join by generating multiple jobs in the construction and housing sector. This can boost economic recovery and revive communities while at the same time moving people closer to their aim of ending Canada’s chronic homelessness.
Canada created 20,000 cooperatives and non-profit housing units every year until the mid-1990s when the nation’s population and GDP were both lower. Also, there is precedence for minority administrations to act as a great opportunity for important investment in this policy of affordable housing. Two contemporary examples are the 2005 Martin-Layton housing trusts and the 2009 Harper stimulus, which made significant investments in affordable housing (Pomeroy, 2018). During the election campaign, the Liberals pledged 10,000 new affordable apartments each year for ten years, while the NDP pledged 50,000 units per year for the same period. Recently, Canadian cities urged the government to enhance financing to construct 26,400 social, affordable, and supportive housing units over the next eight years (Pomeroy, 2018). The new Parliament represents a chance to reach a consensus on an ambitious new construction program that all parties believe should be a priority.
Population the Policy is Intended to Affect
The policy is expected to affect low-income tenants, earners, and first-time house buyers. Commodification and housing finance have had varying effects on Canadian families throughout the neoliberal period. Renters with low to moderate incomes of all ages tend to face home affordability challenges. Young homeowners are particularly vulnerable due to better access to mortgage loans and poor wage growth, resulting in a new kind of housing fragility. Whether or not, as a society, people agree on the same answers, the truth remains that Canada suffers from a severe affordable housing scarcity that disproportionately affects our most vulnerable people. Highly low-income families are more likely to be headed by elders, disabled adults, or children. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, revealed that the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) would produce nearly 10,000 additional affordable housing units throughout the nation, surpassing the planned objective of 7,500 units (Pomeroy, 2018). These housing units will benefit disadvantaged Canadians and individuals who are already homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.
Housing subsidies have been shown to lessen the possibility of a low-income, at-risk family becoming homeless. Families who receive housing vouchers have a lesser likelihood of living in shelters or on the street than families who do not get housing assistance (Pomeroy, 2018). For the past two decades, research has proven that homeless families who are placed in subsidized housing after being discharged from shelters live in a safer and higher-quality environment more stable. Such families are also stable and have a low likelihood of returning to shelter compared to families who receive no housing subsidy. Housing that is affordable in public places allows low-income earners to save, and improve their work prospects, health, and their accessibility to community services.
How the Affordable Housing Policy Works in Practice
When the housing sector operates efficiently and effectively, the marketplace should be able to satisfy the housing demands of the majority of people. Fortunately, Canada boasts one of the world’s most significant housing systems. Consequently, over 80% of Canadian families can meet their housing requirements via the market, aided by their housing financing efforts (Litman, 2019). For example, the country’s home loan insurance enables borrowers to get financing at reasonable rates. However, not everyone has the financial resources necessary to enter or compete in the housing market (Pomeroy, 2018). Additionally, the market may not always fulfill the particular housing demands of some populations, such as those with impairments.
The federal government contributed over $1.7 billion in 2016 to help approximately 536,000 families in social housing. Provinces and territories manage around 80% of contracts with social housing providers. Canada’s Affordable Housing Centre collaborates with social housing providers to ensure the long-term viability of their housing projects (Pomeroy, 2018). The National Housing Strategy – Canada’s first – was unveiled on November 22, 2017, to ensure that all Canadians have access to housing that fits their requirements and is affordable.
The Extent to Which the Policy Addresses the Need
Globally, policymakers are concerned about affordable housing. It denotes the cost of a fundamental human need—shelter. Canada is no different, as the country struggles to offer affordable housing in critical places, such as Vancouver and Toronto, where rents are expensive, and the goal of house ownership has vanished for many. Individuals who cannot afford a down payment often borrow as much to enter the market, financially straining themselves and adding to Canada’s record-high levels of household debt. The National Housing Strategy is Canada’s biggest and most ambitious housing initiative. It will spend more than $70 billion over the next decade to strengthen communities and assist Canadians throughout the nation in obtaining safe, affordable homes (Pomeroy, 2018). This includes almost $13 billion in additional funding requested in 2020. The National Housing Strategy is Canada’s biggest and most ambitious housing initiative (August 2020). It will spend more than $70 billion over the next decade to strengthen communities and assist Canadians throughout the nation in obtaining a safe, affordable home.
How to Improve the Policy
Increasing home construction, particularly smaller units, will eventually reduce housing prices (or at least keep them from rising quickly). Nevertheless, an upsurge in the availability of market-rate housing is not sufficient to aid the poorest households. Public subsidies are the only method to close the income and housing expenses gap (August 2020). The federal government might alleviate financial strain on low-income households by boosting housing grants such as the National Housing Trust Fund or vouchers. Alternatively, boosting earnings via the income tax credit that is raised or increasing the minimum wage would assist low-income households in meeting their rent obligations.
Implications for Social Work Practice
Social workers are the specialists who spend the most time with families that live in low-income and subsidized housing and are thus most acquainted with the challenges related to insufficient housing. More significant tax revenue, job creation, economic development prospects, expanded employment retention and productivity, and the opportunity to address inequality are just some of the economic advantages associated with increased access to excellent, affordable housing (Pomeroy, 2018). A growing proportion of social workers’ clients are experiencing severe housing challenges. High housing prices and an insufficient supply of affordable housing have placed an impossible strain on low- and moderate-income Canadians.
Experience with the Affordable Housing Policy
I am one of the fortunate ones who purchased my home 12 years ago, right before the onset of market instability. With the recent changes in the industry, I could not even afford to rent the property I now own, much alone buy it, yet I earn a fair wage. My property, which I purchased 12 years ago, is now worth around three times what I paid for it, which is excellent for some homeowners but frightening for current and future generations since incomes are not keeping up with these massive gains (Pomeroy, 2018). My friend purchased a condo pre-construction four years ago and eventually moved in a few months ago – as a result of housing inflation on both rental and home sales over that four-year wait period, she is paying less in mortgage and ordinary expenditures than she was paying in rent.
Community Groups that Assist Affordable Housing Policy in Canada
One of the community groups in support of this policy in Canada is 360°kids. A 360°kids has assisted at-risk and homeless youngsters in the York Region for 27 years (Litman, 2019). Its major objective is to assist and support homeless and at-risk adolescents. 360°kids is a one-stop shop for at-risk youth to receive secure, supportive housing for the day, night, or up to a year (Pomeroy, 2018). They provide a comprehensive variety of services — clothes and food, personal support, outreach, counseling, life skills training, education upgrading, and job placement — to assist youngsters in regaining their footing. Ambrose Place is another community group that offers accommodation and supportive services to homeless people of Indigenous ancestry who have been unable to find permanent residence in current institutions.
With the recent increase in house demand, housing policy is among the key concerns of municipal governments. It includes several overlapping issues. Ensuring all individuals have an appropriate home to live in is a significant issue of public policy. Moreover, people have concerns regarding preserving economic-related diversity in certain communities, cities, or metropolitan regions. Lastly, there is a need to maintain community links and different neighborhoods without resulting in the displacement of many people.
August, M. (2020). The financialization of Canadian multi-family rental housing: From trailer to tower. Journal of Urban Affairs, 42(7), 975-997.
Litman, T. (2019). Affordable-accessible housing in a dynamic city: Why and how to increase affordable housing in accessible neighborhoods. Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Pomeroy, S. (2018). Discussion paper: Envisioning a modernized social and affordable housing sector in Canada. Centre for Urban Research and Education.