Non-profit and private sectors come together to address Canada’s rental housing crisis

A group of Canadian housing sector organizations have joined forces in an effort to address the rental housing crisis in Canada.

A collective effort aimed at addressing Canada’s rental housing crisis and safeguarding its vulnerable population from homelessness has been initiated by a group of Canadian housing sector organizations. These include non-profit and for-profit housing providers, developers, and investors, who all convened at a roundtable event to establish what is now known as The National Housing Accord: A Multi-Sector Approach to Ending Canada’s Rental Housing Crisis.

The roundtable’s 10-point plan serves as a roadmap for reinstating affordability within the rental housing system. It aims to set forth a blueprint to generate a minimum of two million new affordable and market-driven purpose-built rental units within the next seven years, while simultaneously bolstering the expansion of non-profit housing and offering immediate assistance to those in dire need.

The plan charts a course to erecting two million rental units within less than a decade, effectively tripling the rate of home construction. This objective is attainable through a robust and expeditious federal response, which the federal government could initiate as part of the upcoming fall economic statement.

“Homelessness is driven by the high cost of rent and a lack of affordable housing. Ending homelessness and achieving the right to housing requires a healthy rental housing market and supply of deeply affordable and supportive housing that does not exist today,” said Tim Richter, president and chief executive officer, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. “This is a solvable problem, but the challenge we face is too big for government alone – we need government, investors, the private and the non-profit sectors working together. The housing sector is ready to step up, but we need the federal government to join us.”

The report also delineates the framework for the federal government to create an environment conducive to substantial private investment in rental housing construction. Additionally, it emphasizes the need to amplify federal investment in deeply affordable, co-op, and supportive housing, while extending immediate support to Canadians at risk of homelessness.

“Rents have been increasing faster than inflation across much of Canada, as the population of renters grows faster than the stock of rental housing. To house a growing population, to restore affordability, and allow workers to live in the communities in which they work, we need a substantial increase in the supply of purpose-built rental units,” said Dr. Mike Moffatt, founding director, PLACE Centre at the Smart Prosperity Institute. “The National Housing Accord provides the federal government with an ambitious but achievable blueprint to create the housing Canada desperately needs.”

Several key proposals have been put forth to address the rental housing crisis in Canada. These proposals encompass the allocation of federal funding for deeply affordable housing, co-operative housing, supportive housing, seniors’ housing, and student residences, while also doubling the relative share of non-market community housing.

Additionally, there are plans to reform the National Building Code, eliminate the GST/HST, and modify capital cost allowance provisions for new purpose-built rental housing to create incentives for construction. Property acquisition programs will be established to assist non-profit housing providers in acquiring existing rental housing projects and hotels, as well as facilitating the conversion of office spaces into residential units. Other initiatives include the creation of a Homelessness Prevention and Housing Benefit to provide immediate support to individuals at risk of homelessness, reforming the Canada Housing Benefit to better serve individuals and families with the most pressing housing needs, and offering low-cost, long-term fixed-rate financing options for the construction and enhancement of purpose-built rental housing.

“The purpose-built rental housing sector in Canada continues to face major challenges responding to depreciating buildings, high inflation, and dramatically increased demand,” said Michael Brooks, chief executive officer, REALPAC. “Governments, for-profit and not-for-profit housing providers must come together to increase supply at all levels, from market rentals to social and supportive housing. That’s why we brought together this team of experts to put pen to paper and come up with a comprehensive set of realistic and immediately actionable solutions that can put Canada back on the path to the right to adequate housing for all.”

The National Housing Roundtable is urging the federal government to collaborate with all levels of government, in conjunction with builders, developers, non-profits, and higher education institutions, to swiftly implement these recommendations. Furthermore, it is encouraging all political parties to endorse and agree upon a bipartisan policy accord, which would instill confidence in investors and the housing market.

The National Housing Accord was crafted by industry leaders spanning the housing spectrum and was convened by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and REALPAC, with facilitation provided by the PLACE Centre at the Smart Prosperity Institute.

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