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  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The energy industry’s insatiable thirst for water threatens First Nations’ treaty-protected rights June 21, 2017
    Our latest report looks at the growing concerns that First Nations in British Columbia have with the fossil fuel industry’s increasing need for large volumes of water for natural gas fracking operations. Titled Fracking, First Nations and Water: Respecting Indigenous rights and better protecting our shared resources, it describes what steps should be taken to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canada-China FTA will leave workers worse off June 2, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is currently consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement. In CCPA’s submission to this process, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair argues that an FTA based on Canada’s standard template would almost certainly reinforce rather than improve upon Canada’s imbalanced and deleterious trade with China. It can also be expected to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Faulty assumptions about pipelines and tidewater access May 30, 2017
    The federal and Alberta governments and the oil industry argue that pipelines to tidewater will unlock new markets where Canadian oil can command a better price than in the US, where the majority of Canadian oil is currently exported. Both governments have approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, but a new report finds that […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Homelessness Policy

This afternoon, I gave a presentation on public policy responding to homelessness in Canada, with a focus on the past decade.  I gave the presentation at this year’s annual conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.

Points I made in the presentation include the following:

-Once inflation is accounted for, the current annual value of federal funding for homelessness programming (now known as the Homelessness Partnering Strategy) has eroded to roughly 36% of its original value (that is, its value in 1999 when it was known as the National Homelessness Initiative).

-In recent years, it has become trendy for senior levels of government in Canada to espouse the ‘housing first’ philosophy when it comes to responding to homelessness.  This means that they say they believe that homeless persons should be provided with permanent housing as soon as such housing can be provided (as opposed to believing that such housing should be provided only once a homeless person ‘rehabilitates’).  The ‘housing first’ approach is generally viewed as being a socially progressive approach, in part because this has not always been the philosophy espoused by senior levels of government.  However, the same governments that are now espousing their belief in this philosophy are not providing enough subsidized housing for every homeless person to receive said housing.  In other words, when it comes to the provision of permanent housing for homeless persons, senior levels of government are providing some permanent housing to some homeless persons.  To others, they are saying: “We would if we could, but we can’t.”

-I would argue that, because senior levels of government are not providing permanent housing to all homeless persons who require it, emergency shelters in Canada are often very crowded.  On any given night and in many Canadian municipalities, it is common for most emergency shelters to be full, meaning that staff at those emergency shelters turn homeless persons away (or refer them to other emergency shelters).  This happens regularly.

-With Canada’s aging population, homelessness amongst seniors appears to be rising.  In Toronto, the number of homeless persons over the age of 65 more than doubled between 2006 and 2013.

-Within the next six months, it is likely that final results of a major homelessness study will be released.  This $110 million random control study— funded (but not designed) by the Harper government—looks at the effectiveness of providing homeless persons with mental health problems with immediate access to supportive housing (that is, subsidized housing that includes social work support).  It is expected that results of this study will lend further support to the ‘housing first’ principle, and may encourage senior levels of government to fund more supportive housing for homeless persons.

My slides from today’s presentation can be downloaded here.

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from Thomas Bergbusch
Time: November 1, 2013, 12:29 am

Excellent piece. Just thought I would post a link to a useful summary of approaches for demonstrating the value of specific affordable housing investments by Bryn Sadownik at Demonstrating Value: see http://www.demonstratingvalue.org/resources/showing-value-affordable-housing

Comment from Nick Falvo
Time: November 1, 2013, 10:58 am

Thank you for the link, Thomas. I appreciate it.

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