Federal Investment in Affordable Housing is Ideal Economic Stimulus

January 8, 2009 – Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness – News Release – National investment of $2.5 Billion could create up to 50,000 new homes across Canada; $25 million to the Capital Region and 500 new homes here.

Jill Clements, Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is urging the Federal Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, to consider an infrastructure investment in affordable housing as a short term economic stimulus.

An estimated 150,000 to 300,000 Canadians are homeless at an annual public cost of at least $4.5 billion.  In the capital region, it is estimated that 1500 people are homeless at a cost of $62 million spent annually on services such as policing, jails, hospital services, emergency shelters and street clean up.

Using a per capita funding formula of $75 per Canadian, for a national investment of $2.5 billion, Clements states that, “An infrastructure stimulus package such as this could mean over $20 million to the capital region and up to 500 desperately-needed housing units for this region’s vulnerable population.”

Clements claims that for every federal dollar invested, between two and three additional dollars might be leveraged from other sources such as the private sector, provincial governments, and charitable contributions resulting in a $7.5 billion impact to the Canadian economy, or $75 million to the economy of the capital region.  Clements also states that “This economic stimulus is unique in its ability to ultimately reduce costs to Canadian taxpayers.

”This investment will directly support Canada’s and this region’s most vulnerable citizens, those who are most likely to suffer the greatest impact of a recession.”

Federal investment in affordable housing will help maintain economic growth in the recession prone construction industry, and support the BC government’s ‘wood is good’ campaign, generate significant economic activity and ensure our community can attract and retain lower paid workers.

The Coalition is also recommending that the federal government move quickly to amend Canada’s Income Tax Act to eliminate the capital gains tax on donations of land and buildings to registered public charities for the purpose of providing perpetually affordable housing. This would create incentives for businesses, organizations, philanthropists and individuals to assist with the creation of affordable housing.

Clements believes an infrastructure investment in affordable housing meets all four criteria identified in Budget 2009 consultation documents. “Speaking for the situation in BC’s capital region, we believe such an investment is timely; has the maximum impact, as it will lever additional dollars from other sources; is flexible in size and duration, as it accommodates for population and can be spread over two years or compressed into a shorter time period; and is consistent with Canada’s long-term goals as articulated in the most recent Speech from the Throne and the government’s fiscal policy”.

The goals of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness to house and support those who are homeless, focusing on street homelessness first; provide the necessary infrastructure to lead, coordinate, monitor and ensure results on Victoria’s homelessness crisis; and to prevent homelessness.

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Letter to Federal Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty
Position paper Infrastructure Investment in Affordable Housing as Economic Stimulus

Jill Clements, Executive Director, Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness
(w) 250-370-1516, (c) 250-217-3709

Robert Mitchell, Program Manager, Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness
(w) 250-370-1506, (c) 250-888-1834