Ottawa — As the federal government is’ expected to launch the National Housing Strategy (NHS) this fall, Mayor Jim Watson recognizes that it could be a once in a generation opportunity to transform affordable housing in Canada.

“Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of the liveable, sustainable and caring cities we aspire to build. Despite this, a million and half Canadian households are unable to find a home they can afford and nearly 235,000 individuals will experience homelessness this year. Housing has become less affordable at virtually every income level,” said Mayor Jim Watson, a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC).

The BCMC has laid out detailed solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis in their submission to the federal government: National Housing Strategy: Getting it Right, which calls for Ottawa to prioritize repairing and building new affordable and social housing and to leverage local innovation to ensure long-term sustainability.

Mayor Jim Watson added that “The federal government is listening to municipalities and responded by pledging $15 billion for the NHS in Budget 2017. Getting this strategy right is the next critical step. And while our recommendations are extensive, at their core is common sense.”

The federal agreements that developed much of Canada’s 600,000 social housing homes didn’t adequately account for long-term repairs, and today’s non-profit providers generally lack the revenue and funding for maintenance and repairs. Similarly, there was never a clear plan to replace low-income rent subsidies as federal agreements expire. Housing providers urgently need federal funding for repairs—BCMC estimates at least $615 million annually —and a commitment to replace expiring rent subsidies.

“This is a one-time opportunity to lay the foundation for decades to come. We believe that remarkable progress within reach. Ottawa is ready to bring our local expertise to the table and play a meaningful role, in partnership with all levels of government, to ensure we get it right,” concluded Mayor Jim Watson.

The City of Ottawa is a member of the Federation of Canadians Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC). BCMC represents 22 of Canada’s biggest cities, offering a forum for policy development on a range of issues affecting our largest centres. Through FCM, the mayors’ caucus partners with the federal government in nation-building through city-building.