The role of government

Governments can contribute 3 ways:

  • offer rent-geared-to-income subsidies (usually renters pay 30% of their income, government pays the rest)
  • up-front construction subsidies to reduce the monthly cost of housing
  • create emergency shelters and support services

Federal and provincial governments share costs 50/50, so both levels have to commit simultaneously.  Municipalities contribute by waiving fees and making land available.

History of government involvement:

Canada is the only G8 nation that does not have a national housing strategy.  Very few new units are being created and existing units are aging (40 years old).

pre-1964:       no significant government involvement
1964 – 1984:  commitment to affordable housing as part of a broader social safety net.
1984 – 1994:  decline in federal funding. Non-profit food banks start appearing.
1994 – 2004:  no significant federal funding and minimal provincial funding due to aggressive steps to eliminate deficits.   Affordable housing already built is aging and being converted to condos.
2004 – now:   increased government funding on housing and supports. A sign of hope.

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