Across this country, we have an affordable housing crisis.

People are living in tents. People are “couch-surfing”. Home ownership is all but a dream for many.

Imagine what our communities would look like if an additional half a million units of affordable housing were built across this country.

The reality is that families, individuals, single parents and seniors alike are unable to obtain safe, secure, and affordable housing. This is a very real struggle for so many in Vancouver East and across the country. This national problem is of crisis proportions and is steadily worsening. For example, 2018 statistics for the City of Vancouver showed the highest number of people living homeless since the first regional homeless count in 2005. Indigenous peoples face even larger barriers to securing safe affordable housing, and accounted for 40% of the homeless people living in the region, despite being only 2.2% of the overall population. These numbers are unacceptable, because each number represents people in our community who are in crisis.

Our current housing crisis started in 1993, when the Federal Liberals cancelled the National Affordable Housing Program.

As a result, this country lost out on half a million units of affordable housing that would otherwise have been built.

The impact is real and significant.  I have met school children who tell me that they are worry about their housing situation.  Women who were fleeing domestic violence are left with no choice but to return to the abuser because she cannot secure housing.  Families had their children apprehended for no other reason other than the fact that they could not meet their housing needs.  The homeless population are becoming more desperate.  In one instance, I learned that a fight broke out because people were fighting for awning space in an attempt to stay dry as heavy rain poured down. It is high time for government to deliver what so many across the country have called for – a National Affordable Housing program.

Housing is a human right
Speech delivered on January 31, 2019 in favour of the NDP Motion to take immediate action on Canada’s Housing Crisis.

HANSARD: Discussion on mental health, housing and Constable Shaelyn Yang

I will build on what I heard from my colleague about the need for the social determinants of health to be addressed, because that is intrinsically linked to both our physical and mental health.
The reality is that there are so many people in our communities who do not have access to basic supports that should be a basic human right, such as housing. When people cannot access housing, they are in turmoil. Pregnant mothers feel so hopeless because they cannot have access to housing that they take their lives.
I have had situations in my own riding of Vancouver East where mothers and families who are trying to get away from domestic violence are not able to access housing. There is desperation when sending them back to the abuser because they have no other choice. I have met mothers who lost their children, and not because they are bad parents but because they do not have access to safe, secure and affordable housing. Let us imagine for one moment the trauma associated with that. What does that do to their hearts, to their minds and to their mental health? Those are the realities that people have to live with every day across Canada and most definitely in my riding of Vancouver East.

IN PARLIAMENT: VIDEO - Calling for the urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy promised by the Liberal government

Madam Speaker, on April 8, 2022, I rose to ask the government when it would invest in a “for indigenous, by indigenous” urban, rural and northern housing strategy, which it has promised since 2017 but has failed to deliver. After the NDP pushed for action, the Liberals proposed just $300 million to initiate a strategy over five years. This is hardly a drop in the bucket and is not good enough. We need a federal government response that meets the gravity of this national crisis.
The situation in my community is so dire that it literally keeps me up at night. People are dying and lives are at stake. On July 25, fire officials issued an order to immediately disperse an encampment of the unhoused, who are disproportionately represented by indigenous people seeking shelter and community together in tents along East Hastings Street, citing serious fire safety concerns. When these tents come down, there will be nowhere for people to go. Meanwhile, residents are being increasingly targeted by threats of violence and criminalized by authorities.
There are simply not enough safe and affordable homes for people to move into. There are currently more than 2,000 identified homeless individuals in the city, and this number is likely an undercounting. About 40% are indigenous, meaning that indigenous people are nearly 18 times more likely to be homeless in Vancouver compared with the rest of the population.

IN THE NEWS: Hill Times - 'This is the time for getting things done,' says former Liberal staffer after retreats wrapped up

The confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP looks to be in good shape as Parliament returns for the fall, say strategists, even as both parties look to address growing frustrations with the rising cost of living, and prepare for the election of a new Conservative leader.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) was expected to announce on Sept. 8, the last day of the cabinet retreat in Vancouver, that the government was taking three steps to address affordability, according to a Canadian Press report. These included $650 a year to pay for dental care for children under the age of 12, a one-time $500 top up for renters, and a temporary doubling of the GST tax credit for low-income households.
The first two items are directly from the Liberal-NDP agreement, and the increase to the GST rebate is also something the NDP has called for. But Trudeau’s planned press conference was delayed, and when he did appear before the cameras several hours later it was to react to the death of Queen Elizabeth.

IN THE NEWS: CanIndia - Trudeau announces $2B for creation of nearly 17,000 homes, new 5-year rent to own stream

“The housing supports announced today were secured by New Democrats for everyday people as part of the supply and confidence agreement. While this is good news for Canadians, we know that more needs to be done to help families afford to keep a roof over their heads. Since 1993, the housing crisis has been ignored by Liberal and Conservative governments who abandoned federal affordable housing programs people relied on. It’s wrong that families who need help now have been ignored by decades of Liberal and Conservative governments,” Kwan said.
“New Democrats will continue using our power to push the Liberals to make life more affordable for everyday people. This means pushing to reverse Liberal and Conservative cuts by restoring the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s role in building social and co-op housing. We will continue to fight for meaningful investments that address the urgent homelessness crisis in communities struggling with encampments. It also means pushing the Liberals to ensure immediate relief to renters who need it and crack down on investors treating housing like a stock market instead of a human right,” she added.

MEDIA RELEASE: Liberals must do more to help Canadians find a home they can afford

“Canadians are paying sky-high prices for rent and struggling to find a home they can afford. The NDP continues to push the Liberal government to fix the housing crisis and get people the help they need...
New Democrats will continue using our power to push the Liberals to make life more affordable for everyday people. This means pushing to reverse Liberal and Conservative cuts by restoring the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s role in building social and co-op housing. We will continue to fight for meaningful investments that address the urgent homelessness crisis in communities struggling with encampments. It also means pushing the Liberals to ensure immediate relief to renters who need it and crack down on investors treating housing like a stock market instead of a human right.

IN THE NEWS: CTV - Trudeau announces funding for 17,000 new homes

NDP housing critic Jenny Kwan wrote in a statement Tuesday the initiatives announced by Trudeau were the result of the Liberal-NDP supply and confidence agreement, and she called on the federal government to do more to help make housing affordable.
“This means pushing to reverse Liberal and Conservative cuts by restoring the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s role in building social and co-op housing,” Kwan wrote. “We will continue to fight for meaningful investments that address the urgent homelessness crisis in communities struggling with encampments. It also means pushing the Liberals to ensure immediate relief to renters who need it and crack down on investors treating housing like a stock market instead of a human right.”

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