EDMONTON - This afternoon’s tabling of the Federal Budget put housing in the spotlight with more than $10 billion in investment. While more will need to be done to address distortions in the housing market caused by big Real Estate Investments Trusts, the overall picture in this budget shows the federal government is finally getting serious about the housing crisis.
“Housing is a human right,” said Bradley Lafortune Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “For far too long, so many Albertans have been struggling with rent or scraping together enough for a down payment in a housing market that is increasingly out of reach for most families. The federal commitments to housing today, which include new investments for housing in Indigenous communities and a new housing cooperative program, are all good first steps in the right direction.”
The COVID pandemic has laid bare housing inequality and the need for wide-scale interventions in the maret. The federal government’s commitments to addressing distortions in the market caused by individuals and corporations treating housing as a commodity is also a good step in the right direction.
Specifically, Public Interest Alberta was pleased to see that the Budget reallocates $500 million for a new Cooperative Housing Development Program to spur a new generation of cooperative housing. Also, it is promising that the Budget commits $4.3 billion to improve and expand Indigenous housing.
Lafortune stressed that implementation matters and policy coordination is critical. For example, a one-time cash payment of $500 dollars will be welcome to the 1 in 2 families struggling with paying rent, but without provincial rent freezes or eviction bans, this federal commitment will only be a temporary fix for many families.
“While the renewed investment in housing is welcome news, there are tough questions about how this budget will curb systemic problems in the housing market,” said Lafortune. “We don’t see enough interest paid to the financialization of housing, and it remains to be seen whether these investments will adequately address the crushing crisis of affordability for renters and accessibility for homeless Albertans and Canadians.”