Canadian Municipalities urge feds to up affordable housing funds

Tom Boland (
Sat, 5 Jun 1999 09:19:14 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  Toronto Star - June 1, 1999


     Federal role must increase, committee says

     By John Spears - Toronto Star GTA Bureau Chief

Canada's municipal leaders are calling for a renewed federal role in
housing the country's neediest citizens.

A stronger federal presence in low-cost housing is required, says a draft
policy paper that will go before the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
this weekend in Halifax.

``A federal role to complement and support provincial and municipal
government activity is essential to ensuring that Canadians are well
housed,'' says the paper, drafted by a committee of 50 federation

Industry Minister John Manley and Claudette Bradshaw, the federal
government's minister responsible for the homeless, as well as all federal
opposition party leaders will attend the four-day meeting, which begins

Housing and homelessness will be key themes of this year's meeting.

Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman, who will speak at the opening of the convention,
has condemned Ottawa for not doing enough to house the poor and homeless.

The federation's paper draws together figures from across the country on
housing needs, some of which have already been published in works such as
Anne Golden's report on homelessness for the City of Toronto.

The document paints a stark picture of housing needs, noting that 1.7
million tenants in Canada spend more than 30 per cent of their income on
rent. Thirty per cent is a widely used benchmark for what it is reasonable
to pay for rent.

494,000 new rental units needed to clear backlog

Across the country, 96,000 families are on waiting lists for some form of
assisted housing.

A shortage of affordable housing is a big part of the problem, the report

Canada will need to build 494,000 rental units by the year 2010 to clear
today's backlog of people seeking affordable housing, and to meet future
demand, the report says.

The paper proposes initiatives to get public and private sectors involved
in building affordable housing, but most plans require Ottawa to take the
lead. Among the measures:

*   Renew the mandate of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., giving it
primary responsibility for housing policy. Failing that, assign
responsibility to another agency. <P>

*   Set up a federal-provincial-municipal program to house the homeless,
much like the infrastructure program that built roads, sewers and bocce
courts in the Liberals' first term. <P>

*   Have Ottawa endow a national foundation with $200 million a year for
three years for interest-free housing loans. <P>

*   Make a straight capital contribution of $10,000 to $30,000 a unit to
build rental housing. <P>

*   Provide more generous tax write-offs for owners of rental apartment
buildings. One example: Allow apartment owners to depreciate the value of
their buildings more quickly, thereby giving them bigger tax write-offs
against the income generated by the building.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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