Canada has an affordable housing problem, and that’s led to more and more people calling the streets their home over the last two decades.
“There’s absolutely a direct correlation between the federal government withdrawal from housing…and modern homelessness today.”
Richter says the feds have been eroding the affordable housing dollar for 20 years.
“Homelessness is not something that always existed in Canada to the scale it has today. It really began, it happened in Edmonton and Calgary and the rest of the country in the late 80’s and exploded in the 90’s when the federal government just decided to stop investing in affordable housing.”
Richter goes on to outline the changes made by previous federal governments.
“The federal government investment in housing has dropped 46% in the last 20 years and at the same time the Canadian population’s increased 30%.”
Richter points to the rent hike faced by residents in the MacDonald Lofts as a possible byproduct of the down-sized federal support. Tenants there are facing a legal rent hike, in some cases almost a 50% hike from $562 to $862 a month come November, when the mercury has no qualms about dipping to -20 degrees overnight. Richter says they have no options, because there are no other affordable options.
“Most people in this situation are living on benefits or living with AISH or income support, and that doesn’t pay even that $500. So they’re spending all of their money on housing. That’s unsustainable for them and in this case it’s also unsustainable for the landlord.”
Richter adds that in 2014 they crunched the numbers, and worked out how much it would cost each Canadian every year to end homelessness. 42 cents.