Hamilton Churches: Picking Up The Pace Of Housing Advocacy In Canada

A graphic red on whiite including Canadian Flag and houses
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How do you get people on board with a program to build more housing for people who aren’t being well served by the private market? This question led the First Unitarian Church in Hamilton to host a series of discussions. People have learned about the gap in housing supply for seniors and people with disabilities1. Another time, the topic was co-operative housing.

This year, the Unitarian Church joined with St. Paul’s United Church in Dundas to hold three events to discuss what governments could do about housing. The third event, which is coming up later this month will focus on the federal government, including its National Housing Strategy (NHS)2.

The NHS was the first housing program by the Canadian federal government in 30 years and when it was introduced in 2017, it was quite a big deal. Since it launched, its limitations have become increasingly apparent. That was before COVID came along and added its own wrench by upsetting our health and the country’s economy.

Today we find ourselves with many more people experiencing homelessness, many more people struggling to hang on to their housing. Canadian government policies and programs are not keeping up with the growing need. Not only are they not keeping up, some federal programs seem to be working against the government’s stated housing objectives3.

This suggests that the churches’ decision to focus on the federal housing program is well timed. And according to Canadian opinion polls, housing is creeping up as an issue of concern, although the economy and health care still hold the top spots.

This year the church organizers have invited a speaker from the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA) to talk about the National Housing Strategy. Where is it falling short? What actions should the federal government to take to reduce homelessness and make housing more affordable?

The CHRA has a diverse membership, including non-profit housing providers, supportive housing providers, indigenous housing providers, and provincial and territorial housing departments. From its website, the CHRA has four goals:

    • Keeping homes affordable
    • Ending homelessness
    • Renewing communities
    • Supporting a sustainable housing profession

The CHRA includes lobbying in its activities. It seems likely that this year’s meeting will head to a discussion about how people can persuade the government to get its actions on track with its aspirations.

People can join the meeting electronically. It will be of interest to Canadians who are concerned about the housing crisis in Canada and willing to consider becoming more active about it.

The discussion also joins with other efforts to influence public opinion in the United States4 and the United Kingdom5. For this reason, readers in other countries may wish to join the session to study the effect of the church strategy.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday October 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). You can register at Eventbrite,  in order to get the Zoom link.

 

Footnotes

  1. Try: Webinars And Remote Meetings – Getting on with Housing Business When You Can’t Get Together
  2. The two earlier events focussed on what the local council could do and what all three levels of government could do.
  3. Try: Canada’s National Housing Strategy – Heading Off In The Wrong Direction
  4. Try: Connecting Messaging And Evidence To Build A Case For Housing
  5. Try: UK Research Investigates The Ethics Of Tax Scrapping