Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Drastic Housing Funding Changes Could Leave Families Homeless, Liberals Warned

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Drastic Housing Funding Changes Could Leave Families Homeless, Liberals Warned

Article excerpt

Careful overhauling housing help, feds warned

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OTTAWA - Tens of thousands of low-income families could end up homeless in the coming years if the Liberal government drastically changes the way it spends billions in affordable housing benefits, warn those who work to keep such families housed.

Decades-old funding agreements that provide grants to keep rent levels or operating costs down are set to expire over the next 20 years, and the Trudeau government has vowed to keep money in the housing system.

But with Ottawa putting the finishing touches on a new housing benefit that would be tied to people, rather than places, housing providers are concerned the government will end up robbing Peter to pay Paul.

That could strain the finances of tens of thousands of low-income households, potentially leaving them out of affordable housing options because they can't cover increases in rent, or because their housing provider can't afford to stay in business.

"Unless the federal government introduces a replacement program that will ensure the continuation of rent-subsidized units, then the risk and the fear is that these units will disappear," said Jeff Morrison, executive director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.

"As a result, the people -- especially low-income, vulnerable populations -- that rely on these units will really have nowhere else to go."

The majority of the funding agreements will expire by 2025, with the last one set to mature in 2038.

The government's first budget committed $30 million over two years to hundreds of agreements that have expired or will do so by March 2018, affecting about 13,000 units.

Estimates on the combined value of agreements that are expiring during the next decade range from $3.5 billion to $5 billion -- money that would otherwise have disappeared without a new program.

In a 2016 presentation to the minister overseeing the housing plan, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. …

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