Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Focus Housing Money on Poor, Aboriginals: Advocacy Group

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Focus Housing Money on Poor, Aboriginals: Advocacy Group

Article excerpt

Help neediest in housing spending: advocates

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OTTAWA - The federal government is under quiet, but growing pressure to focus housing spending on the neediest, instead of forging ahead with a national plan aimed at the entire housing spectrum.

The lobbying comes as the government works towards a national housing strategy that will map a path forward on everything from homeless shelters to the housing market and decide the fate of billions in federal funds earmarked for social infrastructure, such as affordable housing.

The latest push came Tuesday, when the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association argued in a public submission that particular attention needs to be paid to urban aboriginals and youth, who face higher poverty rates, and to the North, where housing and repair costs are higher than in the rest of the country.

The group argues there is a need to focus on affordability in the rental market and not just on reducing housing prices as part of a targeted approach to help those who face extra barriers to break the cycle of poverty.

"The fact is that there are a lot of Canadians for whom house prices simply don't mean anything, because that's just completely out of reach," association executive director Jeff Morrison said. "We need to focus as part of the strategy on those Canadians for whom the non-profit, the affordable housing sector, the social housing sector, is really their only option."

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government believes it's important to cover the full spectrum of housing in order to have a strategy that meets the needs of all. Mathieu Filion said the goal is to ensure all Canadians have access to affordable housing that meets their needs.

"We think that looking at all the aspects of housing under this strategy is the best way to address housing issues for all Canadians," Filion said.

"It will meet the needs of all Canadians. …

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