2 Alberta mayors sign letter pushing federal parties for action on housing in Canada
The mayors of Edmonton and Calgary signed onto an open letter pushing the federal political parties to take action on housing and homelessness in Canada.
A total of 17 mayors, representing over 13.6 million Canadians, signed a letter on Friday urging action be taken to end Canada’s housing and homelessness crises. The letter was addressed to all five major Canadian political parties and candidates seeking seats in the federal election.
“The pandemic has driven home the depth of Canada’s housing crisis,” the letter read. “Together, we’re calling for urgent federal action on Canada’s housing and homelessness crises and we all stand ready to work with the next federal government to move quickly and act decisively.
“Safe housing continues to become more scarce and less affordable as 1.7 million households live in a home that is either unaffordable, overcrowded, and/or needs major repairs while nearly 5 million Canadians worry about paying their housing costs every month.”
Don Iveson, mayor of Edmonton, tweeted on Friday morning sharing how important action on ending acute housing needs and ending homelessness are.
“Housing is an issue we should be hearing more about and considering (this election),” Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted Friday.What say you, #elxn44 party leaders?
The letter was organized by Vote Housing, a national non-partisan group of experts and concerned Canadians looking to make housing more affordable and end homelessness.
The group is calling on the next federal government to implement a housing strategy for urban, rural, and Indigenous residents; investments in supportive housing units; the creation of affordable, co-op, and non-profit housing; and expansion of rental assistance programs for low-income households.
A study completed by the non-partisan policy think tank Fraser Institute and released earlier this week showed that building codes in Canada can contribute to homelessness by reducing the supply of low-income housing.
“When addressing homelessness, well-intentioned policymakers often overlook the significant issue of building codes and how they can actually make the lives of low-income people much worse,” said John Palmer, Professor Emeritus from the University of Western Ontario and co-author of the study.
The study noted how governments shut down housing units not complying with certain building standards without offering supports to rectify them, thereby reducing the supply of housing for low-income people who are often forced into worse alternatives, like abusive households, temporary shelters, or living on the street.
Additionally, the study concluded that over-reaching regulations can sometimes perversely create black market conditions for low-cost housing.
“When government enacts and enforces stricter housing codes, it removes a low-cost option for low-income people, often forcing them into living in worse situations,” said Steve Lafleur, senior policy analyst at the Fraser Institute and study co-author.
According to the authors, 235,000 Canadians have been homeless at one time or another within this past year alone.
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