Pandemic’s uneven effects make 2030 goal of attainable housing harder, CMHC head says

OTTAWA — The new CEO and president of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says she believes achieving the organization’s goal of facilitating attainable housing for all Canadians by 2030 will be more difficult because of the pandemic.

Romy Bowers told a parliamentary committee Thursday it’s because the pandemic has deepened the divide between the “have’s and have-not’s,” particularly with the sharp increase in housing prices over the past year.

However, Bowers says there is more widespread awareness about inequality as a result of the pandemic, and she hopes there will be more public support to tackle those inequities around access to housing

“I think there is a public mood where we actually see the inequalities and there is a huge public support to making the necessary investments,” said Bowers during a parliamentary committee meeting.

“I’m very optimistic that post-pandemic that there will be great opportunity to make investments.”

Bowers became the new head of the CMHC in March after the departure of Evan Siddall.

She entered her new role amid a pandemic that has seen an active housing market, with the Canadian Real Estate Association reporting a 9.36 per cent rise in housing prices through 2020.

The CMHC head said the increase in housing debt that Canadians are taking on for housing is not good for the financial health of the country.

She says the biggest challenge around affordable housing continues to be a shortage in housing supply in the country.

She also says the CMHC’s goal of tackling systemic racism and inequities faced by minorities are especially important to her as a person of Asian heritage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2021.

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