Homelessness was declared a national disaster in 1998 by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. Community agencies, faith groups, labour unions, and government entities endorsed the statement. Building on this momentum, National Housing Day has been recognized on November 22nd since 2000 to bring awareness and action to the issue of homelessness.

The tumult of the last several years has contributed to deeper housing insecurity among already struggling marginalized communities, while plunging new people into housing insecurity for the first time. The combination of record inflation, continued high housing costs, the pandemic’s economic impact, and the rising cost of essentials has exacerbated the housing crisis in Canada, even since Parliament legislated the right to housing in 2019.

United Way Centraide Canada supports the right to adequate housing. According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, adequate housing should be:

  • Secure– security of tenure provides protection from arbitrary eviction, forced relocation or harassment;
  • Affordable– housing costs should not be a barrier to meeting other basic needs such as food, and costs should be protected against unreasonable increases;
  • Habitable– dwellings should have adequate space for the inhabitants, be properly maintained, and provide protection from the elements and other threats to health and well-being;
  • Provide basic services– including safe drinking water, sanitation, heating, lighting, and emergency services;
  • In a locationthat is close to employment and basic social services such as childcare, education and healthcare, and is not located in a polluted or dangerous area;
  • Accessible– for people of all abilities, particularly those experiencing discrimination or living in vulnerable circumstances; and
  • Culturally appropriate– respects and is appropriate for the expression of the inhabitants’ cultural identity and ways of life.

All people should have equitable access to adequate housing, without discrimination based on gender, race, disability, faith, place of birth, age, sexual orientation, and other grounds.

A Helping Hand

Across the country, the United Way Centraide network is innovating to solve immediate and long-term housing needs in our communities. Here are a few of those amazing ideas coming to life:

What we do

The United Way Centraide network is an active leader and partner in work to improve housing stability and end homelessness from coast to coast to coast. We make important investments and work with all levels of government, the community sector, and businesses to support local initiatives.

In several regions, United Way Centraides proudly administer the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home program to address and prevent homelessness locally. This includes in British Columbia, which you can learn a little about in the video above.

Nationally, United Way Centraide Canada and 211 are working in partnership with the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate. The Federal Housing Advocate website directs people who need immediate housing assistance to contact the 211 helpline. United Way Centraide Canada also shares data from 211 and our housing programs, to help inform the Advocate’s recommendations to the Minister of Housing.

As part of our Priorities for an Equitable Recovery, United Way Centraide Canada is committed to addressing the housing and homelessness crisis in Canadian communities. We look forward to continued collaboration between our network and governments to find solutions to Canada’s housing crisis.