Since the last federal election, we have reached important milestones in the campaign to protect co-op housing.
Encouraging Beginning: The Minister’s Mandate Letter
When the Prime Minister appoints the cabinet, each minister is issued a mandate letter. These letters form the basis of the minister’s marching orders. When the cabinet was sworn in the Prime Minister issued nearly 20 directives to his ministers across seven portfolios on matters related to affordable housing.
Jean-Yves Duclos, the minister responsible for housing was instructed to “provide support to municipalities maintain rent-geared-to-income subsidies in co-ops.”
Short-term Assistance: Budget 2016
Stop gap measures were introduced in Budget 2016 in order to provide short-term assistance to co-ops while longer term measures are developed through a National Housing Strategy.
- $30 million, two year commitment to extend rent-geared-to-income assistance for federally administered co-ops whose agreements expired as of April 1, 2016.
- The Investment in Affordable Housing program is doubled. New transfers to provinces and territories offers flexibility to extend rent-geared-to-income subsidies for co-ops whose federally administered agreements expired before April 1, 2016 and for co-ops whose provincially administered agreements.
- $77.6 million was set aside for federally administered co-ops and non-profits for renovation and retrofit projects.
- $150 million program launched to help Section 61 co-ops prepay CMHC mortgages and refinance at lower interest rates.
Hope for a Long-term Solution: A National Housing Strategy
The federal government has committed to developing a National Housing Strategy. In 2016, Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and CMHC led extensive consultations to hear Canadians’ ideas on what they should do. The co-operative housing movement was well represented throughout regional consultations and expert roundtables.
CHF Canada submitted recommendations in a document called “Let’s Talk Co-operative Housing.” During the consultation period, MPs held town halls on the subject of housing, and CHF Canada organized dozens of meetings with MPs in order to deliver the Protect Co-op Housing message.
At the conclusion of the consultation period, the Minister hosted a Facebook live event in order to share the results of the consultation process. CMHC published a document called “What we heard.”
Facebook live video:
Now that consultations are over, all eyes are on budget 2017, looking for federal action on co-op housing.
We still haven’t crossed the finish line. We need to keep working toward a long term commitment to protect co-op housing.
You Hold the Key!
Canada’s housing co-ops are facing a severe crisis as federal subsidies for low-income households expire. Send a message asking your MP for action in the upcoming Federal Budget to protect affordable co-op homes.