CHRA gives Conservatives a failing grade on housing

  6 September 2004

The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, a national non-profit that promotes affordable housing, reported in its review of the various party platforms that “the election of a Conservative government would mean longer waiting lists and more homelessness.”
CHRA went on to report:
“The Conservative platform acknowledges that many ‘Canadians on moderate and fixed incomes have been hit particularly hard in recent years’ but says that ‘to address these rising costs, the Conservative party will offer low tax solutions.’ CHRA is concerned that existing housing programs and other social programs may be vulnerable to being cut in order to pay for the proposed tax cuts. The Conservatives’ list of infrastructure priorities does not include housing. Instead it focuses on roads, sewers, transit and water. On housing, their platform does state, ‘the development of (an Aboriginal) property regime on reserves to allow individual property ownership that will encourage lending for private housing and businesses.’
“Jim Marshall of the United Church of Canada, who is the Chairperson of the National Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, stated, ‘On June 28 we need to elect politicians who will fight for affordable housing. Unfortunately, the Conservatives’ platform shows they just don’t care about the housing needs of low-income Canadians.’
Here’s how the housing-friendly parties stack up according to CHRA:
Prime Minister Paul Martin announced $1.5 billion in new funding for housing over five years. In addition, he will keep intact current funding for programs that renovate aging housing (the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program – RRAP) and that help the homeless (the Supporting Community Partnership Initiative – SCPI). CHRA estimates the Liberal announcement today will produce a total of 35,000 to 60,000 new units over the next five years.
Liberal candidate Richard Mahoney announced last week that his party is considering placing savings from the current investment in social housing (that will be realized once operating agreements expire) into a national non-profit housing foundation, “Housing Works”. This promise is in line with the recommendations of the Expiry of Operating Agreement’s (EOA) final report. The Prime Minister has also promised to look at better ways to get more housing built faster, like a national non-profit housing foundation called “Housing Works” that has been studied by CHRA.
NDP leader Jack Layton has made investment in affordable housing one of the key messages of his election campaign, almost always listing housing as one of the key elements of infrastructure. Mr. Layton has indicated that his party will push for an ambitious investment in social housing. The NDP platform pledges:
– A 10-year national housing program to build 200,000 affordable and co-op housing units, renovate 100,000 existing units, and provide rent supplements to 40,000 low-income tenants.
– Tax incentives to renovate buildings in downtown cores.
– To use the profits generated by CMHC to underwrite low-interest mortgages for affordable housing, and to change CMHC’s mandate to facilitate/fund community-based housing organizations.