A silver lining in the dark clouds of Covid-19 is the recognition by Ottawa of the need “to help address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by rapidly creating new affordable housing units.” To that end, the federal government has set aside $1 billion through the CMHC to create 3,000 housing units within a year, with grants going to municipalities, provinces, territories, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations, non-profit housing organizations and co-ops.
When we think of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have to think in terms of rural vs. urban. In St. John’s (urban), there are services along the housing continuum. Although there are gaps in services, for example, there is no emergency shelter that will take you if you’re a high-need client in active addiction, the services from emergency shelter to coop, or social housing exist. However, a lot of organizations are running beyond their organizational capacity because they don’t have access to adequate funding.
As the COVID-19 pandemic compounds Canada’s ongoing housing crisis, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is proposing a federal initiative and partnership to rapidly repurpose on-sale private buildings as permanent, non-profit housing for vulnerable Canadians. FCM is proposing a federal initiative and partnership to help non-profit community housing providers rapidly acquire, renovate and retrofit two kinds of buildings.
Too often over the past 25 years, official policies have prevented our sector from adequately responding to the challenges that society’s evolution brought to housing. The very real consequences of this inability have been the emergence of mass homelessness, a dramatic rise in rents and the spread of unbridled real estate speculation with disastrous social and financial consequences for the vast majority.