Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)Affordable housing groups from Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick, along with three national groups, hope to land $1.7 billion so housing providers and cities can update the 600,000 affordable housing units in Canada.
Housing crisis in Canada, groups sayIt's an ambitious request for a government that has vowed to spend $1.7 billion this year on "social" infrastructure like affordable housing, seniors residences, and child care facilities, but the group says doing nothing could cost even more: Studies suggest homelessness costs Canada $7 billion annually in services and lost opportunities.
"We're not under any illusion that this is going to be a cheap fix."The annual "State of Homelessness in Canada" report found that federal investment in affordable housing has been cut nearly in half over the last 25 years, which meant that 100,000 units weren't built. Morrison said the $1.5 billion the group is requesting would be making up lost ground. Cash from federal coffers will be cut further over the next 25 years as funding agreements decline from $1.6 billion down to zero by 2040. In other cases, housing providers have wanted to refinance mortgages signed decades ago when interest rates of eight per cent were considered a steal. With rates even lower today, housing providers face stiff penalties to pay off the full mortgage early, making it cost prohibitive for them to renegotiate, Morrison said. That's why the group is also asking the federal government to enact a program that never seemed to get off the ground from the 2015 federal budget that set aside $150 million over four years to cover pre-payment penalties.
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