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.

OPEN LETTER to housing minister on cost-sharing plan with BC provincial and municipal government urgently needed to address homelessness crisis

The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk. Despite the undisputable importance of housing, I am deeply concerned that your government’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) is woefully inadequate.
Based on the response to my order paper question submitted February 4th, 2020, it seems the largest component of the NHS, the National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF), has fallen short of expectations. I was shocked to learn that only 23 of 432 of submissions have finalized funding agreements. Even more troubling was the lack of funding outside of Ontario. Among these applications, over 50% of the finalized agreements were from Ontario and over 91% of the $1.47 billion in these agreements went to a single application in the City of Toronto.
Only 2 applications were finalized in British Columbia, which represents 0.05% of these funds. To say the least, this fails to recognize the housing crisis that has impacted Vancouver and communities in my riding particularly hard.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Housing Minister on human rights based national housing strategy needed to house all Canadians

Canada is gripped by an unprecedented pandemic. Every single person across the country is affected by it and those who live in the margins of society are particularly vulnerable and face heightened risks. For the homeless population, the risks are glaringly apparent as they have no ability to engage in any of the safe practices recommended by medical officers.
Notwithstanding the fact that in 2019, Canada recognized that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right as affirmed in international human rights laws, it remains that Canada has a wide spread housing and homelessness crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic brings to light in no uncertain terms the importance of housing for not only an individual's health, but for the overall health and safety of our communities.
The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. The lack of a coordinated, national strategy means that people will inevitably fall through the cracks of the patchwork efforts. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on nationalwide rent freeze and guaranteed income to protect Canadians needed before rent day

As we approach the end of the month in 6 days, rent and mortgage payments will be due for renters and homeowners across Canada. While a number of economic measures have been announced, they will not be enough to protect Canadians from losing their housing during these difficult times. The increase in GSTC and CCB payments won’t be received until May, and application for the Emergency Care Benefit doesn’t open until April. There are many others who don’t equality for these measures but have suffered debilitating income loss during the pandemic, including but not limited to small business owners, and gig, freelance, contract workers, artists and people in the film industry during the crisis. For people on fixed incomes, such as seniors and people on disability pensions and benefits, the decrease in accessibility to community programming mean that living costs are increasing.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

To protect renters, it is essential a nation wide moratorium on all evictions is in place during the pandemic. As well, a temporary rent freeze period also needs to be imposed to protect renters from price- gauging during these precarious times. Already, I have constituents who have just received a rent increase notice and are extremely distressed by prospect of having to find alternate housing at this time.
Aside from putting in place a national moratorium on evictions and rent increases, some housing advocates are also calling for residential tenancy branch hearing be delayed at this time. In addition, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation should also immediately provide a pool of capital to existing or new rent banks across the country so that those who can’t make the rent because of falling incomes or illness don’t lose their housing.

A Top Housing Priority: a funded housing strategy led by Indigenous peoples, for urban, rural, and northern Indigenous peoples

When I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that is led by Indigenous peoples, for rural, urban and northern Indigenous peoples, I received the usual meaningless talking points. This happened despite the fact that the Liberals pledged in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and First Nations people.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even committed on the public record that the Liberals are committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban Indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.

Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that in Vancouver 40% of the homeless population are Indigenous peoples, the Prime Minister was so busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realizes how severe the housing crisis is and how grossly disproportionate it is in affecting urban, rural and northern Indigenous communities.

 

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