Making sure everyone can afford a place to call home

Everyone should have the right to a safe and affordable place to call home. Working people should be able to afford to live close to their workplaces, including in the heart of our biggest cities. Young people should be able to stay in the neighbourhoods they’ve grown up in. And seniors should never be forced out of the communities that they’ve spent their lives in.

But for too many families, safe and affordable housing is increasingly out of reach thanks to skyrocketing rents, demo-victions, and ballooning home prices. Parents lie awake at night worrying about how they can afford the family home, as costs keep going up but paycheques don’t keep up. And huge numbers of young people are being forced to give up on the dream of ever owning their own house.

Canada is in the midst of a national housing crisis impacting every area of the country: average rents rose in every single province last year, and today, 1.7 million Canadian households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. What this means in real terms is that families in our communities are facing constant stress and impossible choices between rent or food; living in substandard housing or relocating out of their community; or worse, facing the real risk of homelessness.

The worry and anxiety that people feel today is the result of the bad choices that Liberal and Conservative governments have made.

The Liberals have neglected the housing crisis in Canada for too long, turning their backs on families who are struggling to stay in the communities where they live and work. The Liberal government is telling Canadian families that they’re just going to have to wait longer for help, struggle more every month, and settle for less.

New Democrats believe that it’s time to help people now. We have an ambitious plan that will make a difference in every community in our country – because finding a good, affordable place to live shouldn’t be like winning the lottery. It’s time to relieve the stress and worry that people feel by choosing to make it easier to rent and buy a home.

A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. One in three Canadians is a renter. In many cities, the few affordable apartments available get snapped up quickly, and people end up living in either inadequate housing or forced to spend a huge chunk of their income on rent.

The Liberal plan is simply inadequate compared to the scale of crisis Canadians are facing. We need to take urgent action now towards an ambitious plan to build affordable places to live in every community across the country.

That’s why a New Democrat government will create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. This will be achieved with the right mix of effective measures that work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers and co-ops, and meet environmental energy efficiency goals. This ambitious plan will create thousands of jobs in communities all across the country, and help Canadians get the affordable housing they need. Our federal investment will begin with $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half of a New Democrat government.

In order to kick-start the construction of co-ops, social, and non-profit housing, we will set up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get projects off the ground today, not years from now.

A New Democrat government will also spur the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term.

These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families that are hurting get help now. Families do not have years to wait when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why we’ll provide immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing, while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis.

While making affordable rental housing more available is critical, New Democrats believe that the dream of homeownership shouldn’t be forever out of reach for Canadian families. That’s why we will re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families. We’ll also give people a hand with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500.

For Canadians who are open to innovative paths to home ownership, a New Democrat government will provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and connections to local resources, and ease access to financing by offering CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.

To help put an end to speculation that’s fuelling high housing prices, we’ll put in place a Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents. New Democrats will also fight money laundering, which fuels organized crime and drives up housing prices. We will work with the provinces to create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about who owns properties, and require reporting of suspicious transactions in order to help find and stop money laundering.

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