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Election 2004 Vote for Equality - Home > Issues > Housing & Homelessness

 

National Housing and Homelessness Network

For immediate release
February 23, 2004

NHHN Housing Report Card, 2004
Key messages from NHHN
Federal Throne Speech 2004: Nothing New for Housing
Allocations under Affordable Housing Program
Adding up Ontario Liberal housing promises

 

1% One Percent Solution
On eve of Toronto Mayor’s housing summit:

New report card from NHHN shows that the
Feds, Province & City have only delivered tiny fraction of new homes they promised

As Toronto Mayor David Miller prepares to host the first federal-provincial-municipal housing summit in Toronto in five years, a new report card from the National Housing and Homelessness Network shows that all three levels of government have failed to deliver on housing promises that they have made. Former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman hosted the last Toronto housing summit in March of 1999.

The NHHN report card shows that:

  • The Toronto Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force (the Golden report) recommended in January of 1999 that the city needed 3,000 new homes annually, or 15,000 homes over the past five years. The city has actually delivered only 1,054 new homes.

  • The federal Affordable Housing Program, announced in 2001 and topped up in 2003, promised $1 billion over five years to build about 31,500 new homes. The federal government has actually committed only $88.48 million, or about 3,550 homes, since then and none of them are in Toronto.

  • The Ontario component of the federal Affordable Housing Program, announced in 2002, promised $489.4 million over five years ($244.7 million each from the federal and provincial governments) for about 9,800 new homes. The total committed has been $4.8 million ($2.4 million from federal and provincial governments), or about 96 new homes, since then and none of them are in Toronto.

The National Housing and Homelessness Network is calling on the federal government to adopt the One Percent Solution - $2 billion annually for new affordable housing – with a matching amount from provincial and territorial governments.

For information: Michael Shapcott, Co-Chair, National Housing and Homelessness Network
Telephone – 416-978-1260 / Cell – 416-605-8316 Email: michael.shapcott@utoronto.ca


 

National Housing and Homelessness Network
Housing Report Card, February 2004:


1% One Percent Solution
46,500 new homes promised,only about 4,600 delivered

On the eve of Toronto Mayor David Miller’s housing summit,
the National Housing and Homelessness Network has released its latest report card on housing in Canada and Toronto. The report card shows that while federal, provincial and municipal governments have promised more than $1.25 billion to build at least 46,5000 homes in the past five years, the total delivered is less than $100 million – about 4,600 homes. Only about new 1,000 homes are in Toronto.

full text appears below

Promises
Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force (Golden report): 2,000 affordable rental units; 1,000 supportive units annually
Total promised for Toronto since 1999: 15,000 units

Actual new units / new dollars
Let’s Build – 493 units. Transitional (SCPI) – 561 units
Total delivered in Toronto since 1999: 1,054 units 1

Promises
Federal Affordable Housing Program: $680 million in November 2001; $320 million in February 2003 (estimated 31,500 units) 2
Total promised since 2001: $1 billion

Actual new units / new dollars
Total committed (national) since 1999: $88.48 million (estimated 3,550 units) 3
Total committed (Toronto) since 1999: Zero (zero units)

Promises
Ontario component – federal/provincial Affordable Housing Program (May 2002); $244.7 million federal; $244.7 million
provincial (estimated 9,800 units) 4 5
Total promised since 2002: $489.4 million

Actual new units / new dollars
Total committed (Ontario) since 2002: $2.4 million (estimated 96 units)
Total committed (Toronto) since 2002: Zero (zero units)

1 Source: City of Toronto 2003 Report Card on Homelessness (September, 2003).
2 Unit estimate based on average unit subsidy of $25,000 for 2001 program; $75,000 for 2003 program.
3 Source: Letter from Minister Steve Mahoney to NHHN, December 5, 2003
4 Note: The Ontario component is part of the overall federal Affordable Housing Program, not additional units.
5 Unit estimate based on average unit subsidy of $25,000 for 2002 program.

 



Key Messages from National Housing and Homelessness Network:


MORE THAN 200 HOMELESS DEATHS:
Toronto, and virtually all of Canada, continues to face a desperate homelessness disaster and affordable housing crisis. The death of James Kagoshima, a homeless man and well-known advocate, in Toronto about one week before Mayor David Miller’s housing summit underlines the depths of the disaster. Since the last mayor’s housing summit in March of 1999, there have been about 200 recorded deaths of homeless people in Toronto, according to the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. There are more than 70,000 households on the Toronto affordable housing waiting list.

1% One Percent Solution
ONE PERCENT SOLUTION:
The goal of the National Housing and Homelessness Network is the One Percent Solution ($2 billion for new social housing from federal government and $2 billion from provinces, territories). Effective political action by the NHHN and others has led to an emerging patchwork of funding promises over the past five years. These promises are welcome, but even if fully implemented, they fall far short of the need. At the federal level, the funding promises amount to $1 billion over five years - which is 10% of the $10 billion required.


DEDICATED NATIONAL HOUSING FUNDING:

Paul Martin as Liberal housing critic in 1990 called for major new spending in social housing: “leadership must come from one source; and a national vision requires some national direction.” In his first Throne Speech as Prime Minister in February of 2004, housing received only vague mention, no new funding promises and was lumped in with municipal infrastructure (roads, sewers, water, public transit). In 1996, as finance minister, Paul Martin transferred most federal housing programs to the provinces and territories. Now, housing is being downloaded to municipalities. The result will be uneven housing policies across Canada, varying from municipality to municipality. Canada needs a national housing program with national standards and national funding.


BREAK FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL LOGJAM:
Third, the federal government needs to break the logjam around the $680 million over five years for new housing promised in November of 2001 (to be matched by the provinces and territories). Only about $88 million has actually been spent. Only Nunavut has spent its full allocation. Quebec, B.C. and Alberta have committed the most among the provinces, but there are concerns with the roll-out in those provinces. If provinces or territories are unable or unwilling to meet their commitments, then the federal government should bypass them and deal with willing municipalities or social housing providers.


ROLL-OUT ADDITIONAL $320 MILLION:

The entire $320 million for new housing promised in the February 2003 federal budget has been frozen due to the logjam around the $680 million. This money needs to be put into new housing, as promised, right away.


EMERGENCY NATIONAL HOUSING SUMMIT:

The federal, provincial and territorial governments should immediately convene an emergency national housing summit to break the logjam around the spending promises made to date and to move quickly towards the full $2 billion annually that is required. The next regular summit may not be held until the fall of 2004.

February, 2004


February 2, 2004

Federal Throne Speech 2004: Nothing new for housing

The first Speech from the Throne from Prime Minister Paul Martin offers nothing new for the millions of Canadians suffering from the nation-wide housing crisis and homelessness disaster. Fourteen years after Martin headed a task force that called for a renewed national housing strategy, he has yet to deliver. The best that the speech could offer is a vague promise to meet the housing commitments made by the Chretien government. In November 2001, the federal government offered $680 million over five years for new housing. Another $320 million was added in 2003 for a total of $1 billion over five years. But as of November of 2003, the federal government had only committed $88 million - or less than 9% of the total.

TD Economics issued a report in June, 2003, that called housing “one of Canada's most pressing public policy issues” and noted: “After ten years of economic expansion, one in five Canadian households is still unable to afford acceptable shelter.”

The Throne Speech was thin on housing. The word housing appears only twice and the word homelessness once. In none of these references is there is a commitment to increase funding or to restore a new national housing strategy. There is no reference to housing in sections on children, people with disabilities or Aboriginal people. The first reference to housing is on page 11, when it appears in a list of qualities that make up a good community. The Speech mentions the “new deal for cities” and a promise to waive GST for municipalities. This amounts to, by the government’s own estimate, $7 billion over 10 years, or $700 million annually for all the thousands of municipal governments. And this is for a range of expensive municipal needs – everything from roads and sewers to water and public transit. The most significant reference to housing comes on page 12: “The Government will also move to quickly commit funds within our existing infrastructure programs, so that our partners can plan properly. Together, these are real and ongoing investments in urban transit, affordable housing, clean water, and good roads.”

Compare this with the Chretien Throne Speech in 2002, which said: “[The Government] will extend its investments in affordable housing for those whose needs are greatest, particularly in those Canadians cities where the problem is most acute. It will extend the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative to provide communities with the tools to plan and implement local strategies to help reduce homelessness. In a number of cities, poverty is disproportionately concentrated among Aboriginal people. The government will work with interested provinces to expand on existing pilot programs to meet the needs of Aboriginal people living in cities.”

Throne Speeches are always vague documents, unlike budgets. But the 2002 Throne Speech had much stronger language. Martin’s first Throne Speech is a step backwards. No promise of new spending, no obvious priority to a national social housing program and only a weak commitment to try and spend the money that was already promised.



Federal Affordable Housing Program


Two years after the federal-provincial-territorial Affordable Housing Framework Agreement was signed, only 13% of the funding has been allocated, according to new numbers from the federal government. Add in the $320 million promised in the 2003 federal budget (none of which has been spent) and less than 9% of the total promised has been delivered.

text follows

Province || Allocation ($m) || Recorded spending ($m) 6

Newfoundland and Labrador: $15.14 || 0
Prince Edward Island: $2.75 || 0
Nova Scotia: $18.63 || $0.07
New Brunswick: $14.98 || 0
Quebec: $161.65 || $43.72
Ontario: $244.71 || $1.20
Manitoba: $25.39 || $0.48
Saskatchewan: $22.93 || $0.94
Alberta: $67.12 || $8.50
British Columbia: $88.70 || $26.70
Northwest Territories: $7.54 || $1.89
Yukon Territory: $5.50 || 0
Nunavut: $4.96 || $4.96
Total: $680.00 || $88.48


6 Recorded expenditures to end of October 2003 (revised November 25, 2003). Information from Secretary of State
Responsible for Selected Crown Corporations, December 5, 2003.




Adding up Ontario Liberal housing promises:


PROMISE TO RE-BUILD ONTARIO’S PUBLIC SERVICES:
The Ontario Liberals, who were elected to form the government in Ontario in October of 2003, campaigned on a promise to
re-build Ontario’s public services. The Liberal’s housing commitments that have a significant financial cost (with quotes from various policy documents and estimates provided by the Liberal Party) include:

  • “almost 20,000 new housing units for needy families” (cost – $245 million over four years),
  • “a housing allowance for low-income families [to] provide direct, immediate housing relief for 35,000 families” (cost – $100 million annually),
  • “a provincial rent bank to help tenants with short-term arrears so that they can keep their homes” (cost – $10 million annually),
  • a “priority to the development of affordable housing on Ontario government-owned lands”,
  • the creation of a new “Ontario Mortgage and Housing Partnership to provide competitive financing rates for non-profit, co-operative and commercial developers who want to build rental housing in Ontario”, and,
  • a “significant increase [to] supportive housing options for those suffering from mental illness” (Liberals promised 6,600 units, so cost could be $100 million over four years).

Total cost of Liberal housing promises: at least $272 million annually.

The McGuinty Liberals also made other significant housing promises that don’t have a significant financial impact. These include commitments to:

  • “repeal the misnamed Tenant Protection Act and replace it with an effective tenant protection law. Our law will protect tenants by making unfair rent increases illegal”,
  • “encourage the construction of more rental units to reduce upward pressure on rents”,
  • “ensure that municipalities with low vacancy rates have the right to protect existing rental housing from unreasonable demolition or conversion to condominiums”,
  • plus specific promises to reform or repeal regulations used by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, which under the Harris / Eves government was a “fast-track eviction factory”.

To meet this second set of promises, the government must ensure sufficient funding is restored to provincial housing programs (currently divided among several ministries). From 1995 to 2003, the province cut an estimated $879.1 million in housing spending.



Source: Taking action to re-build: Simple, practical, affordable solutions to Ontario’s manufactured housing crisis and homelessness disaster; submission to 2004 pre-Budget consultations of Ontario Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, Monday, February 2, 2004, by Toronto Disaster Relief Committee


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