Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of co-op, non-profit and public housing units have been receiving subsidies for decades from the federal government. These subsidies, which allow very low-income families to be housed, are beginning to run out, and this phenomenon will accelerate over the next five years. The number of housing units benefitting from long-term agreements decreased from 630,000 in 2006 to 613,500 in 2010. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts this number will go down to 540,800 in 2015. This trend will continue, so that by 2032, the federal government will no longer fund any housing units. All social housing units built before 1994 will be affected. This represents a loss of $1.7 billion in funding per year.
The withdrawal of federal funding will have dramatic consequences. Low-income tenants living in co-op and non-profit housing will lose CMHC funding that allows them to pay rent geared to their income. These tenants will face steep rent increases, forcing them to leave, and be replaced by more affluent tenants.
If nothing is done, the housing crisis in Canada will be aggravated. Already, there are 982,000 Canadian tenant households facing core housing need. This loss of federal funding comes on top of cuts to federal funding for the creation of new affordable housing, which is at its lowest level in decades.
We need to preserve existing social housing, not only for current tenants, but for all households who will need it in the future. FRAPRU (Front for Popular Action on Urban Restructuring of Quebec) which brings together over 100 organizations working for the right to housing, supported by its allies of the Red Tent Campaign (http://redtents.org/) , a Coalition of housing groups from different provinces, are working to put pressure on Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. The Red Tent campaign is demanding that the federal government immediately commit to maintaining funding for social housing, after the termination of long-term funding agreements signed when these units were originally built.
To do so, we call on all committees, tenants associations, co-op federations, social housing groups, social justice and anti-poverty organizations in all provinces to organize demonstrations, rallies or actions on the weekend of May 25-27,2012. On this weekend, there will be a big demonstration in Montreal, where at least one thousand people are anticipated. Check the tab with your province to see what is happening where you live. If nothing is planned, contact Red Tent and we can support you in organizing with us.
Meanwhile, we ask all those who are either directly affected, such as tenants of co-op, non-profit or public housing, or those concerned about the preservation of our social housing stock, to print, sign and circulate the Petition asking the government of Canada to:
- immediately commit to an adequate budget that ensures the renovation, improvement, and modernization of all social housing units (low-cost housing, cooperatives, and non-profit housing);
- immediately commit to maintaining the long-term subsidies granted to social housing units created before 1994, in particular those that allow low-income tenants a rent that is geared to their income (corresponds to their capacity to pay).
The original copies of the petition must be returned to FRAPRU by April 30, 2012, in order for them to be delivered to the House of Commons.