The number of rental homes that are affordable to Canadian households is rapidly dwindling. Right now, for every new affordable home being built under federal and provincial / territorial programs, two are being lost, either to demolition and conversion or as a result of rent increases that render them unaffordable. While increasing housing supply with new builds is important, it is equally important that governments take urgent steps to preserve the affordable homes we already have.

In this policy brief, we identify specific policy tools that are available to governments at the municipal, provincial, territorial, and federal levels to preserve the dwindling supply of affordable private rental market homes that already exist in Canada.

Key highlights include:

  • Policy tools to keep rents affordable.
  • Policy tools to maintain affordable homes and prevent neglect.
  • Policy tools to preserve affordability in housing redevelopments.
  • Policy tools to protect affordable rental housing from conversion.
  • Inter-governmental cooperation and coordination.

This submission proposes a federally-funded Residential Tenant Support Benefit to address the arrears and evictions crisis, in accordance with the National Housing Strategy Act.

The pandemic has caused an unprecedented assault on the right to safe and secure housing in Canada. Income loss and job losses have been disproportionately experienced by women and lower income workers who predominantly rely on rental housing, and the number of tenants in arrears and facing eviction has reached a crisis level, as many were already paying unaffordable rents in cities and towns across the country.

Eviction is a serious assault on dignity, security and may place health and life at risk, and all levels of government are required to prevent eviction wherever possible. Severe economic inequality and the failure of governments to regulate housing markets are systemic and structural failures resulting in potentially widespread violations of the right to housing.

Federal government action is urgently needed to address this crisis, and Canada has a new model through which this can be done – under the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA).

The NHSA affirms that the Government of Canada recognizes the right to housing as a fundamental human right, and commits to progressively realize this right over time – and there has never been a more urgent time for the federal government to act on its commitment.

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and the National Right to Housing Network (NRHN) have developed the Proposal for a Federal Government Residential Tenant Support Benefit to address the evictions and arrears crisis in accordance with the National Housing Strategy Act.

This submission was produced in consultation with over 120 housing advocates and individuals with lived experience of homelessness from across Canada. It proposes a federal residential tenant support benefit for low- and moderate-income tenants to ensure that no one loses their home during this period or suffers other consequences of paying rent that they are unable to afford because of lost income.

Key highlights in the submission:

  • An analysis of the arrears and evictions crisis as a systemic issue during the pandemic, in particular for women, low-income workers, Black and Indigenous people, queer households, and persons with disabilities
  • An overview of the scale of arrears and evictions in each province and territory across Canada since the pandemic began
  • Practical avenues that the federal government can take to address the arrears and evictions crisis, in alignment with their obligations under international human rights laws and their commitment under the National Housing Strategy Act
  • A detailed proposal for a federally-funded residential tenant support benefit to preserve tenancies during the pandemic

This guide outlines the many ways in which Indigenous people face discrimination in housing and provides recommendations on how to develop effective urban housing policies for Indigenous people.

This report was part of a campaign led by the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) – when we were called the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) – and the Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC). The campaign advocated for the adoption of social charters by the City of Toronto and other municipalities across Canada to protect social rights including the rights to housing, food, health, education, and adequate income in all areas of municipal programs and decisions.

This report highlights women’s experiences of homelessness which tend to be ignored and provides recommendations on how governments can respond to the specific housing needs of women.

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