About 235,000 Canadians become homeless every year, with 35,000 sleeping in shelters and on the streets on any given night. 1.7 million are unable to afford adequate, suitable shelter.
Vancouver and Toronto face a serious housing bubble. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has said that a market correction is necessary and that the current boom is “unlikely to be sustained.” Current job growth, wages, and immigration can not keep up with the inflated housing market. A housing market “correction” will impact municipal revenues already affected by austerity. 2016 Toronto revenues from the land transfer tax are estimated at over half a billion dollars. Over 145,000 people in Vancouver spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing.
Like healthcare, housing should be a right. New Democrats can advance the demand “housing for all” better than any other political party in Canada. As North America’s only mass workers’ party linked to the building trades unions, public sector workers and social movements, the NDP is best positioned to craft a humane housing strategy, one that would enjoy massive popular support. The NDP should set a target of half a million public housing units, which will stimulate the building trades. Costs will be met by rent collection over an extended period.
The NDP must champion a Social Investment Bank to fund co-ops, and to work diligently to eradicate homelessness in the first mandate of an NDP government. The provision of shelters should focus on oppressed communities – and especially women and LGBTQ folks – where victims are fleeing violence, abuse and discrimination.