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From the front lines of Canada’s housing crisis, local governments bring crucial expertise to the shared objective of tackling chronic homelessness—and affordability across the housing spectrum—to support an inclusive national recovery.

Appropriate housing that’s affordable provides security that we all need to raise healthy families and be our best selves, as workers and as neighbours. But the pandemic has driven home the depth of Canada’s housing crisis. We’ve seen it in the lives of frontline workers who go home to overcrowded, inadequate housing. And in the lives of thousands who’ve struggled to stay safe—with no home at all.

But we’ve also seen promising action from governments working together. Through the federal Rapid Housing Initiative, local leaders are supporting thousands of Canadians who’ve faced COVID19 from a place of homelessness. They are repurposing available buildings, lands and modular housing as permanent affordable housing, creating jobs as they go. They are showing what’s possible when we governments join forces to drive frontline action.

Now Canadians need us to be more ambitious. That’s why we’re proposing frontline solutions to eliminate chronic homelessness and improve affordability across the housing spectrum—as a centrepiece of an inclusive recovery. This will require all governments at the table, building solutions that deliberately address the inequities that Indigenous, Black and people of colour disproportionately face in accessing housing. And we’ll need durable solutions, including wraparound supportive housing, for those facing mental health and substance use challenges.

Ending homelessness

  • Establish a clear and measurable timeline to achieve the shared goal of ending chronic homelessness, working with municipalities and our community housing partners—while actively aligning the mandates of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Employment and Social Development Canada to support this goal and timeline.
  • Grow the proven Rapid Housing Initiative: Commit an additional $5.5 billion over five years to create at least 18,000 more supportive and deeply affordable homes for Canadians experiencing homelessness—maintaining the allocation-based Major Cities Stream and maximizing program flexibilities to empower communities to meet the goal of housing 27,000 vulnerable Canadians. (The RHI’s existing funding is creating 9,200 new units).
  • Permanently double the Reaching Home program to develop and deliver more community-based systems, supports and services needed to end homelessness—essential complements to the homes created by a scaled-up RHI. This requires an additional $282 million annually starting in 2024, including at least $50 million for the Rural and Remote stream. (Budget 2021 included a temporary doubling for 2020-21 to 2023-24.)

Protecting and expanding affordable housing options

  • Protect low-rent market housing from “renoviction” and conversion—by launching a program supporting its acquisition by the community housing sector. An initial capitalization of $585 million would support the acquisition of 10,000 low-rent units. Further improve and protect rental housing by optimizing and expanding incentives for landlords to repair and energy-retrofit properties without increasing rent levels.
  • Create a non-market rental housing program that offers affordable and convenient choices so communities can retain workers, prevent homelessness, and protect local economies. With recent reports stressing the cost and economic impacts of inaction on providing workforce housing, we recommend investing $11.5 billion over the next five years to support the construction of at least 70,000 new units owned and operated by the community housing, not-for-profit and co-op sectors.
  • Introduce a dedicated Indigenous housing strategy, committing at least $3.3 billion over the next 5 years to create at least 20,000 new housing units for Indigenous households in communities—urban, rural and northern—addressing a significant gap in the National Housing Strategy.
  • Promote purpose-built rental construction by expanding incentive programs to produce more units annually, while increasing minimum affordability requirements and aligning with municipal incentive programs. This will help tackle rental supply shortages and reduce pressure on the home ownership market.

Co-designed housing solutions

  • Commit to stronger intergovernmental coordination on housing affordability, building on the new Federal-Municipal Housing Working Group bringing together senior federal and municipal representatives to jointly identify and develop solutions to Canada’s housing crisis.
  • Work with FCM to redesign and expand the Federal Lands Initiative to align with local programs, making more federal land available faster, empowering municipalities to identify surplus federal and/or other publicly available lands, and ensuring the Canada Lands Company’s mandate prioritizes affordable housing.
  • Work with FCM to co-design new incentives to expand municipal tools and foster housing innovation—including scaling up locally-driven “missing-middle” housing, intensification, transit-oriented development, accelerating e-permitting, etc.

Supportive communities

  • Confront mental health challenges so often linked to chronic homelessness, by committing to a formal intergovernmental working group that includes municipalities. Through this, increase the transparency of mental health transfers and their local impacts; and jointly develop long-term solutions to ensure wraparound supports for new supportive housing units, including those delivered through the Rapid Housing Initiative.
  • Tackle the opioid crisis and save lives by rapidly scaling up access to local safe supply programs. This can include building on recent emergency funding through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), which supports projects aimed at pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic illegal drug supply and prevent overdoses, alongside other harm reduction and treatment strategies.
  • Support community safety by engaging with FCM on RCMP contract policing issues: (a) expanding community partnerships, leveraging successful community policing models and supporting anti-racism and equity initiatives that are run by and serve racialized communities; and (b) ensuring financial sustainability as local governments pay a growing share of policing costs with limited revenue tools and no ability to run deficits.