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Homelessness & Affordable Housing
Homelessness and Affordable Housing
Homelessness is a condition of disaffiliation and exclusion resulting in a loss of community and sense of self and drifting into social isolation. Individuals and families living homeless or on the brink of homelessness is a distressing social problem confronting Canadian society for the past decade or more and, the Upper Fraser Valley is not immune to this problem. For more information see the 2008 Upper Fraser Valley Homelessness report “We Need to Get Home”.
Evidence gathered recently from communities in the Fraser Valley Regional District indicates that the biggest housing pressure is in two areas. Firstly, there is pressure in the area of long term and/or permanent supportive housing that includes social and health supports for people with persistent multiple barriers and for adults and youth who are transitioning to independent living. Secondly, there is also pressure in the area of affordable housing options, both rental and ownership, for working families, single parent families and seniors who can live independently and who are able to pay not more than 30% of gross income on housing.
To effectively address the problem of homelessness will require a long term commitment and willingness to make major changes in housing, welfare support and social development strategies. Such a commitment should be informed by the existing continuum of typologies of responsiveness to homelessness, from homelessness prevention to emergency shelter to supportive housing to independent housing.
What is needed instead is a national housing strategy that includes policies on infrastructure investment that protect and maintain existing rental stock, provide incentives to invest in affordable housing, including rental units, and support a vigorous renewal of co-operative and other social housing programs. Canada is the only G8 country without such a national housing strategy. A national housing strategy can play an important role in stimulating local and regional economies, provide jobs and improve local tax bases.
Much work remains to be done. Reducing homelessness and providing affordable (social) housing should remain within our collective community conscience as something that needs ongoing attention and resourcing in the interest of safe, healthy and vibrant communities.
For more information on MCC BC’s work on Homelessness and Affordable Housing contact the Director of Programs at 604-850-6639 or email@example.com