The Sunday Magazine·the sunday edition

Why Canada needs a new National Housing Policy — now!

Canada is in the midst of a housing crisis. Young people can't afford to buy a home, people in social housing are being evicted due to massive repair backlogs, and a growing forest of condo towers in our big cities excludes families and children. David Hulchanski, one of this country's most respected housing experts, looks back at the history of housing policy in this country, and what that history can teach us about the need for government intervention in housing.
The B.C. government is going ahead with a study to examine key factors affecting housing prices. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)
Canada is in the midst of a housing crisis. Skyrocketing prices in our biggest cities are making it nearly impossible for young people to dream of owning a home, or finding a decent place to rent. It's worse if you live in social housing. In the city of Toronto alone, more than 7,500 units are at risk of closure in the next few years unless money to repair them can be found.
Flooding completely destroyed this flooring inside a unit of social housing in Toronto. The Toronto Community Housing Corporation says it will take months to make the repairs needed before someone else can move in. (John Rieti/CBC)
The situation on reserves from one end of the country to the other is no better and in many instances, even worse. There are some 30,000 Canadians — men and women and, increasingly, families — who are homeless every day. Not to mention the 50,000 "hidden homeless" — those who couch surf or crash with relatives and friends.
Living room window with visible mould in Igloolik. (Nunavut Housing Corporation )
We have a housing system that is designed to make some people wealthy and increase inequality rather than do what it necessary to adequately house all Canadians.- David Hulchanski
In recognition of this miserable state of affairs, the federal government has set aside $11 billion for a new National Housing Strategy, to be developed by Toronto MP Adam Vaughan.
Adam Vaughan, Liberal MP for Spadina-Fort York, is charged with developing a national housing strategy for Canada. (CBC)
But what can such a strategy accomplish? And what can we learn from the national housing strategies of the past?

David Hulchanski is one of Canada's most respected housing experts. He has spent decades researching housing, homelessness, and related social policy and human rights issues. He teaches Social Work and Urban Planning at the University of Toronto. 

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview. 


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