Published by Senator Art Eggleton on 29 April 2009
A recent report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Housing, Miloon Kothari, called on Canada to develop a “comprehensive and coordinated national housing policy.” Mr. Kothari expressed concern about the rise in the number of the homeless in Canada, the three million Canadian households that are in “core housing need” (spending 30% or more of monthly household income on housing), and the inadequate amount housing for Canadians living in need.
A home anchors the family, provides the foundation for greater stability in the workforce and gives people a stake in their community. It is also a key determinant of health and long-term health outcomes.
Providing adequate housing is as much an economic issue as it is a social one. In British Columbia, a 2001 study showed that costs for services for the homeless were 33 per cent higher than for those who were housed.
So to those who say that we can’t afford to provide decent housing, I’d say that if you want to look at dollars and cents, prisons, psychiatric hospitals and emergency shelters are many times more expensive than providing affordable housing.
We have so much to gain if we start now to develop a national housing strategy. I believe we have a moral obligation to do so. And it also makes economic sense.