Campaign 47 Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention

Investing in affordable housing and homelessness prevention makes sense for building healthy communities

Governments across Canada recognize that access to affordable, adequate housing is critical to the social and economic vitality of our communities and therefore, of our nation. Poor housing imposes enormous and far-reaching costs – impacting the development of children, health, public safety, education and participation in jobs.

In healthy, successful communities, members have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. It could be in the way they interact with their neighbours. It could be the job they do. It could be how they spend their time volunteering in the community. Regardless of how they interact, people need a comfortable place to call home in order to do it.

Societies that succeed are the ones that understand how important it is that every member of the community has the opportunity to contribute meaningfully. These are the societies that see the value of investing in social infrastructure. Investing in social infrastructure is an investment that yields returns. And this isn’t only in terms of social benefits, it’s in terms of economic benefits as well.

Investing in solutions to homelessness and in affordable housing makes sense

With respect to affordable housing, OMSSA would like to see more sustainable funding. But these funds shouldn’t go just anywhere, they should go where they will make a difference. This means that the investment needs to be flexible to respond to the needs of the local community. In some areas, money is needed to build new structures to create affordable accommodation — the actual bricks and mortar. In others, the need is to make shelter more affordable. In many cases, not only does the housing need to be more affordable, supports are needed to keep people housed in their home and to build healthy, positive life styles. Ontario’s municipalities that function as local service system managers must have a direct say in how funds are allocated.

In terms of addressing the problem of homelessness at its roots, OMSSA would like to see a concerted effort among different government departments to create and fund a sustainable, integrated plan that tackles the many facets leading to homelessness. We know that some people need financial assistance to make housing more affordable, while others may also need supports to address mental health issues or substance abuse problems. We’d like to see investments in long term sustainable funding that facilitates a multi-pronged approach which links social and health supports with stable, adequate housing that is affordable to low-income Canadians. We’d like to see pan-Canadian action that yields real change for the thousands of children and families living on the street.

Working towards a healthy, vibrant society – a source of pride for all Canadians

Canadians pride themselves on living in a country with a high standard of living; and on being a caring, community-minded people. They are shocked when they hear how many children go to school hungry, how many people are stuck in the cycle of poverty, how many people struggle to make ends meet, how many children are cared for in arrangements that do not promote optimal development. It’s a lack of adequate social infrastructure.

Social infrastructure, or the system of social services, networks and facilities that support people and healthy communities, is essential to ensuring every person the opportunity to contribute to a progressive society meaningfully. It means assuring necessities like shelter, education, adequate income, safety, recreation and leisure, and cultural expression. It is built upon the values of equity, access, integration, inclusion and diversity. Building a community in which individuals can contribute to their full potential is working towards a society that is thriving —economically, socially, culturally and politically.

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