In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Housing Policy Roundtable expressed the urgent need for immediate investments to improve the housing system’s ability to shelter those experiencing homelessness as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response. These policy recommendations were echoed in an op-ed published Aug. 24, in the Globe and Mail.
In the letter, the Roundtable, a cross-sectoral group of housing thinkers committed to the development of shared solutions to strengthen Canada’s housing system, made two key recommendations to help mitigate a second wave of COVID-19. They expressed the urgent need to renew funding for the Reaching Home initiative and to establish immediately an Acquisition Fund through the National Housing Strategy.
The Reaching Home initiative is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to vulnerable populations and communities. During the height of COVID-19, the Reaching Home initiative secured spaces in hotels and motels so that people experiencing homelessness could isolate safely. These units helped to flatten the COVID-19 curve among homeless populations across Canada. The Roundtable believes Reaching Home funds have been essential for community response and must be renewed to mitigate the impact of a second wave of the pandemic.
The Acquisition Fund would enable municipalities, non-profits and community organizations to buy properties including existing rental assets, hotels and motels for the purpose of bolstering emergency and long-term housing supply. Purchasing these properties outright would create long-term shelter and housing for people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.
United Way Centraide Canada is proud to represent the United Way Centraide Network at the Canadian Housing Policy Roundtable.