2024 Federal budget highlights urgency of the housing crisis

  16 April 2024

Today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the 2024 federal budget, which largely focuses on the housing needs of renters and younger generations. Many of the housing commitments outlined in the budget were announced as part of the federal government’s new housing plan, unveiled last week. The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada strongly supports the government’s sharp focus on housing.

As with the housing plan, we welcome the clear role for co-op housing as part of the supply response to this generation’s housing crisis.

Canada’s share of non-market community housing, including co-ops, has slipped significantly in past decades and is now well below the OECD average. However, non-market community housing is exactly the kind of housing we need; homes are affordable, secure and drive economic growth. Canada’s housing co-ops are ready and able to partner with the federal government, and all other governments, to undertake the essential task of developing more housing co-operatives. Coming out of the Second World War, we did exactly this and it resulted in the housing co-ops that continue to provide affordable homes to a quarter of a million Canadians today.

In particular, the housing plan reiterated the government’s important commitment to build new co-op homes through the Co-operative Housing Development Program, first committed to in the 2022 budget. CHF Canada continues to call on the government to launch the program without delay.

“We have shovel-ready projects at risk of missing the 2025 construction season,” says CHF Canada’s Executive Director, Tim Ross. “Co-op housing is just the type of housing we need more of, to ease the affordability crisis. The federal government needs to launch the program in the coming months, so together we can create more co-op homes.”

The $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund announced earlier this month will critically enable housing co-ops and non-profits to buy market rental buildings to protect renters, which CHF Canada and its partners had advocated for. Renters are at risk today. An expedited launch of the Fund will allow housing co-ops and non-profits to acquire rental buildings now, protecting renters and preserving affordable homes forever.

A fully funded Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, developed and implemented with an Indigenous delivery partner is essential. The Government has committed to the distribution of $4.3 billion through the establishment of a ‘for Indigenous, by Indigenous’ National Housing Centre; this must be funded without delay.

Existing rental assistance programs are set to expire in four years. These low-cost, high-impact programs are what enables co-op housing to be mixed-income, while keeping the buildings in good working order. The federal government needs to commit to rental assistance beyond 2028 to give households and co-ops essential security. CHF Canada looks forward to better understanding what flexibility to the Federal Community Housing Initiative is proposed.

Other notable budget commitments for housing include:

  • $1 billion increase to the Affordable Housing Fund and the launch of a new Rapid Housing Stream to build deeply affordable housing, supportive housing and shelters.
  • $15 million for a new Tenant Protection Fund for organizations that provide legal and informational services to tenants, as well as for tenants’ rights advocacy organizations to raise awareness of renters’ rights.
  • Overhaul Canada Lands Company, including a commitment to transfer land for $1 to support more affordable housing, beginning with 5 federal land sites.
  • $800 million over 5 years for the Canada Greener Homes Affordability Program that will support the direct installation of energy efficiency retrofits for Canadian households with low- to median-incomes.

“Co-ops have years-long waitlists because people want to access the affordability, security and community connection that housing co-ops offer. CHF Canada and housing co-ops are ready and eager to work with the federal government to expand, build, and acquire more co-op housing. We continue to urge the federal government to quickly launch the Co-operative Housing Development Program and move swiftly on new commitments like the Rental Protection Fund.” 

Cassia Kantrow, President, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

“There is a need for more Indigenous-led co-operative housing, and for housing-focused commitments to Reconciliation. We urge the federal government to robustly invest in Indigenous-led housing solutions, including Indigenous-led co-operative housing.”

April Ager-White, Board Director representing Indigenous Communities, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

“This budget speaks to the affordability and housing concerns of Canadians. This budget and the new federal housing plan include important commitments the federal government has made to create new co-operative housing through construction and acquisition of rental buildings. We look forward to working with the government to implement these housing programs through an approach that uses the energy and expertise of the co-op housing sector. We urge the federal government to act swiftly to launch these programs and continue to grow the supply of non-market housing.” 

Tim Ross, Executive Director, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada