A Housing Platform for Poor and Working people
OCAP denounces all federal parties’ insufficient attempts at prioritizing ‘affordable’ housing in the upcoming election.
“Affordable” is a misnomer, it is weak-willed political jargon, intended to be vague. What we need is more not-for-profit housing: safe, quality social housing, a serious investment in the housing co-operative model, and the deprivatization of long-term care. We need housing designed for people, not profit.
Housing has been an issue for poor people for decades. As federal parties unveil a platform mainly supportive to help middle-income earners, it is obvious that poor and working people’s needs are not anywhere in mind. Most of the platform points from all major political parties focus on homeownership, once again leaving renters, under-housed, and unhoused persons out of the conversation.
Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are hundreds of thousands of people at risk of being evicted and forced onto the streets. No federal party makes mention of any solution to this. Instead, all parties offer too little, too late, and fail across the board to center those in dire need. After years of neglect from all levels of government, we need emergency action, that prioritizes a safe place to live for every member of the country, including migrants and undocumented peoples.
This housing crisis has been manufactured by developers and governments who have, by design, allowed the slow supply of specific types of housing, and sustained a bubble of prices that only top income earners can perforate. Since 1993, the federal government has stopped investing in social housing across Canada. What we see today is the effects of a long-term and calculated effort to neglect and invisibilize our most vulnerable, consolidate profits into developer’s hands, and further the neoliberal agenda.
Condominium developers continue to run amok, while other models of housing are forgotten. Greedy landlords and real estate developers continue to profit at the expense of poor and working people simply needing a place to live. Shame on the federal government for allowing this crisis to happen in the first place and shame on their lack of action now.
We are in unprecedented times, with hundreds of thousands of people across the country behind in rent and eligible for eviction. Our shelter systems are full and overcrowded. After being sued, the government was forced to look to hotels and other interim solutions in response to the pandemic. We have thousands of people living in encampments across the country, being forcefully and violently evicted by police, with nowhere else to go.
The population in shelters is increasingly made up of migrants left without status due to huge problems based on race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability in Canada’s immigration system. This population has special needs, none of which are even touched on in any of the platforms.
The housing platforms of all major political parties fall grossly short of the change that is needed to support the right to housing.
Our governments at all levels are complicit in this crisis, and we demand long-term sustainable solutions that secure the right to housing for people at all income levels.
Our Housing Platform Demands:
- A commitment to 1 million new social housing units, nationwide, to be built by 2025
- An ongoing funding commitment to municipalities comparable to rates adjusted for inflation before funding cuts in 1993 for the maintenance and creation of social housing going forward
- The facilitation of new housing cooperatives in every city, in the amount to house all those waitlisted and meet ongoing demand by 2026
- An increase in taxes for those who own more than two properties
- A 20% vacancy tax for empty and unused properties for up to 3 years
- The expropriation of empty and unused buildings sitting for over 3 years to create more not-for-profit housing options
- Stronger policies that support the rights of tenants, including rent forgiveness for pandemic arrears
- Redefine the term “Affordable” to reflect deeply affordable housing based on income and not in contrast to market rent
- Focus on shifting the financialization of property to providing housing for all who require shelter
- End the for-profit model for long-term care facilities and ensure dignified and safe housing for all, at every stage of life.