EDITORIAL: Federal housing plan a good start

Liberal government makes big promises, if people are willing to wait

The Liberal government has high hopes for its new 10-year housing strategy, designed to reassert some level of federal control over the file.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has been a major factor over the years in the housing market, from helping first time home buyers gain tax relief, to providing new housing GST rebates for those constructing their own home or doing substantial renovations.

Much of the new federal plan stretches out over the long term – the new Canada Housing Benefit will provide rent subsidies starting in 2020 and runs until 2028 – but the overall numbers touted at least sound impressive. The government is promising to build 100,000 new affordable housing units, repair another 300,000 subsidized units, cut chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and remove 530,000 households from what it calls “housing need,” which is essentially reducing families’ risk of homelessness.

In making the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called housing rights a “human right,” adding that “everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home.”

That statement rings true, especially with those at risk of homelessness and the people who work to keep them housed in Greater Victoria. Having a regular place to come home to has long been talked about as a key pillar in helping people deal with addiction, mental health and social issues.

While the feds might appear to some as heroes in this discussion, especially with the Canada Housing Benefit, which will provide average annual rent subsidies of $2,500 to qualifying families, fully half of the $4 billion cost of that program will be covered by the provinces and territories. But as anyone who has put together funding for major infrastructure projects can attest, a 50/50 split is sometimes as good as it gets.

Victoria’s housing market is booming, but an increasing number of people finding themselves scraping to find rent money, let alone being able to afford to buy a home. We hope these new federal programs will have the desired effect locally to help relieve that problem.

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