There is a huge number of people who are in need of housing in Canada. The infographic below shows it to be a staggering 3.2 million, which is about 1 in 9 Canadians. Our latest report card estimates that there are 200,000 people per year who experience homelessness in Canada.

This problem is made significantly worse by the lack of affordable housing and the huge expense of updating derelict buildings. The infographic by Citizens for Public Justice shows that there has been a decline in housing spending, and as Nick Falvo pointed out in an earlier blog post there has also been a decline in spending on homelessness.

Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing plan. Even more than just a plan, we need commitments from all levels of government. Providing basic housing needs is less costly than alternatives and would be a money saver for all jurisdictions. Beyond just saving money, it also has real implications on people’s lived experiences. Particularly at this time of year, helping people access the services they need should be a priority on everyone’s mind.

Although an emergency shelter system is important, with sufficient affordable housing people may have additional options that would reduce the need for even temporary use of shelters.

Housing is continuing to be built in major cities in Canada, so there is a desire to create it from the private sector. What is lacking at this moment is affordable housing. This will require an allocation of money in a coordinated manner from multiple levels of government.

A good step towards ending homelessness is to invest in measures of prevention such as building affordable housing for those who need it the most.