The one per cent solution

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 07:41:48 -0500


Forwarded with permission. Please excuse the OCR errors.
-----------------------------------------------
The One Percent Solution:
Towards a National Housing Strategy

LETTER- WRITING CAMPAIGN

March 1999

Dear Friends and Endorsers,

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) asks you and/or your
organization to join our national letter-writing campaign, aimed at the
Federal Government, putting forth our demand for a National Housing
Strategy. In particular, we propose the "One Percent Solution, "which
requires that all levels of government spend one percent more of their
existing total budgets on housing than they now do, to end the National
Disaster of Homelessness. This letter writing campaign will press for
future federal budgets to deal with the Homelessness Disaster.

More than 1100 individuals and 400 organizations, including hospitals,
numerous health organizations, AIDS services organizations, community
services and faith organizations have declared that homelessness is a
National Disaster. The city councils of Toronto, Vancouver,
Ottawa/Carleton and Nepean, and the mayors of 10 of Canada's largest
cities, have done the same. The Federal government must respond in an
emergency mode!

The following three pages give you information you can use to
participate in this campaign: Page 1 outlines the TDRC's position on
combatting the National Disaster of Homelessness with the One Percent
Solution; page 2 gives background facts on the housing situation in
Canada; and page 3 suggests how to write your letter(s), including
necessary addresses and fax numbers.

Yours Truly,

CATHY CROWE
On behalf of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
-------------------------------------------------

The "One Percent Solution"

In the long term, we must eliminate homelessness. Emergency measures,
such as adequate shelters, food, and health care, though imperative now,
will not serve forever. We need a permanent National Housing Strategy.
Canada holds the unenviable distinction of being the only industrialized
country without one. To fund this historic initiative, the TDRC proposes
that all levels of government spend one percent more of their existing
total budgets on housing than they now do. This One Percent Solution
would be the single largest step towards ending homelessness in this
country.

On average, the federal, provincial and municipal governments of Canada
spend about one percent of their total budgets on housing; in 1994-95,
they spent $3.83 billion out of a total of $358 billion. An increase of
one percent would hence double the amount now spent and would go far
towards ending homelessness in the next three to five years.

Doubling the amount spent would not only substantially increase the
number of housing units but would also increase the support services for
people who need housing. There would be funding for new construction,
renovation of existing units and subsidies for people on low incomes.

The past three decades have known many housing success stories across
the country. We have a wealth of knowledge about how to provide good
housing and support services; we lack only the resources to get the job
done and end the suffering that homeless people in Canada face in the
streets and shelters every day. The federal govemment must take the
lead. They not only have the largest budget, but would obviously play
the key role in a National Housing Strategy.

It's time for all levels of government to take up the One Percent
Solution and end the National Disaster of Homelessness.

Background on Housing in Canada

Canada has a past record of success in housing. Federal, provincial and
municipal governments have funded many community-based housing projects
that are providing good homes to hundreds of thousands of women, men and
children. But recently, governments decided to stop funding the
development of new housing projects.

In 1996, the federal government announced a plan to transfer
responsibility for federal social housing programs to the provinces and
territories. So far, it has signed deals with five provinces and two
territories. If Ottawa continues the transfer, Canada will be the only
developed country in the world without a national affordable housing
program!

Ottawa stopped funding the development of new affordable housing in
1992. The Ontario government killed its development program in
19957On15; British Columbia and Quebec still have small programs to help
develop new affordable housing.

The overall rental vacancy rate -- proportion of units vacant -- for
Canada dropped from 4.1 per cent in October 1997 to 3.4 per cent in
October 1998. This low rental vacancy rate flags the growing
homelessness crisis. When there is not enough housing, and when homes
are too expensive, people are forced out onto the streets.

Canada has signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights guaranteeing everyone's right to "an adequate standard
of living including adequate food, clothing and housing." Homeless
people have no decent standard of living; our governments are therefore
violating these Human Rights.

The latest federal budget came out on February 16, 1999. After years of
cutting social programs, including housing, the federal government has
now officially eliminated the deficit. They have money to re-invest in
the affordable housing that so many in Canada desperately need; the 1999
federal budget was a good place to start. Unfortunately, not a single
penny was allocated for new spending on social housing units or any
homelessness initiatives.

How To Write Your Letter

Write to your federal Member of Parliament (MP), to your federal Cabinet
Ministers, and to the Prime Minister. Tell them you want a National
Housing Strategy and the One Percent Solution. Letter-writing can
effectively convince politicians to act; they know that if one person
takes the time to write a letter, probably at least 100 other people
hold the same opinion. The most effective letters are written in your
own words. Here are a few tips:

Introduce yourself in the first paragraph. Say why you are concerned
about the homeless disaster. If you have a personal connection (a
friend, a relative, perhaps even yourself), mention it here. Demand that
the next federal budget include money for the development of new
affordable housing. Talk about the One Percent Solution. The fact sheet
gives some background information.

The letter need not be long, nor typed or printed; in fact, hand-written
letters have even more effect. End by asking the politician to reply,
and to speak to colleagues, the housing minister, the Finance Minister
and the Prime Minister.

You can write one letter to your federal MP and then "cc" the other
politicians, or write each separately. If you can, please fax your
letters. All letters to the House of Commons go postage-free. We suggest
you write to the following at:

- - (Name of Minister), House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K 1A 0A6 - -

Hon. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister. Tell him to address the National
Disaster of Homelessness
in Canada NOW.t (Fax 613-941-6900)

Your Federal Member of Parliament (MP). Your MP's name is listed in the
"Canada" section of your telephone book's blue pages.

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano, MP. Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation. Tell him to put housing back on the federal agenda.
(Fax 613-992-8523)

Hon. Paul Martin, MP. Finance Minister. Insist that the One Percent
Solution be part of the next federal budget. (Fax 613-992-4291)

Hon. David Collenette, MP. Minister Responsible for the Greater Toronto
Area. Tell him the government must address homelessness. (Fax
613-995-0327)

Please also "cc" a copy of your letter(s) to us at the TDRC. Thank you!

TORONTO DISASTER RELIEF COMMITTEE
c/o 168 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5V 2R4
Ph-416-703-8482 x411 Fax-416-703-6190 Email-tdrc@hotbot.com