The National Housing Strategy’s (NHS) vision is that Canadians have access to affordable housing that meets their needs. Affordable housing is a cornerstone of sustainable, inclusive communities and a Canadian economy where we can prosper and thrive.
In support of this vision, the strategy focuses on 6 priority areas for action.
Housing for those in Greatest Need
Many Canadians have difficulty finding and affording housing that meets their needs. The National Housing Strategy will address the housing needs of vulnerable Canadians, including:
Community Housing Sustainability
“Community housing” refers to:
- community-based housing that is owned and operated by non-profit housing societies
- housing co-operatives or public housing owned by provincial, territorial or municipal governments
The goal for this priority area is to improve the sustainability of community housing and build the capacity of providers. This can include:
- investing in the resilience of the community housing sector
- stabilizing the operations of housing providers
- helping community housing providers achieve greater operational efficiencies and better responses to tenant needs, community needs and capital needs
- supporting the community housing sector’s efforts to become more capable, viable and innovative
- encouraging and supporting the social and economic inclusion of low-income households and more inclusive, vibrant and productive communities
- testing approaches to evolve the system of rent supports for low-income households
- supporting innovation in business practices or asset management
The term Indigenous refers to First Nations, Métis and Inuit. They are distinct peoples with their own cultures, rights and relationships with the Crown.
Improving Indigenous housing is a priority for the National Housing Strategy.
Indigenous housing challenges are unique, complex and multifaceted. Indigenous households experience some of the worst housing conditions in Canada. Nearly 20% of Indigenous people live in housing that is in need of major repairs, and 20% live in housing that is overcrowded.
Advancing greater autonomy and responsibility for housing by Indigenous peoples, organizations and communities is also an important priority. This is being considered through the co-development of distinctions-based housing strategies for Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples. The strategy supports initiatives that improve Indigenous housing conditions wherever they may be located.
Access to affordable, adequate and suitable housing in Canada’s northern and remote regions is a consistent problem. Many northern residents face uncertain economic futures. They must cope with extreme climate conditions, high living, construction and transportation costs, and limited transportation infrastructure.
Low employment rates, sparse populations, cyclical resource-based economics and limited capacity for sustainable growth amplify the housing challenges that people face. Improving housing conditions in Canada’s geographic north is a priority area of the strategy.
This priority area covers the geographic regions of the three territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. For the purposes of Innovation and Research-related programs, the definition expands to include the northern extent of seven provinces. These are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sustainable Housing and Communities
The National Housing Strategy focuses on ensuring the next generation of affordable community housing in Canada is built to last. This includes measures ensuring that housing is environmentally friendly, socially inclusive and financially secure for builders and/or operators.
The strategy focus on sustainable housing and communities is comprised of the following 3 areas.
Canada’s housing sector is a significant consumer of energy, land, water and raw materials. It accounts for a large portion of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Sustainable housing and community solutions that reduce stresses on the environment and are resilient to the consequences of climate change are both necessary and achievable. Established and emerging technologies are making it possible to build and renovate homes to be more sustainable than housing of previous generations. Much of Canada’s new and existing housing stock is not as energy efficient and resilient as it could be. The National Housing Strategy supports initiatives that:
- improve the performance or extend the useful life of existing buildings
- improve their energy efficiency
- ensure new construction is durable and energy efficient
Communities that are more socially inclusive are more socially sustainable. Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society. It means improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.
Social sustainability is when individuals have the resources and opportunities to be involved in society to an extent that is satisfactory to them. Inclusive and socially sustainable communities have:
- accessible housing
- housing with supportive wrap-around services
- housing located close to services, transit and employment
- housing close to social, cultural and recreational amenities
- housing located in mixed-tenure or mixed-use developments
Increased economic sustainability is achieved in projects that incorporate a mix of uses, tenures or income levels to ensure financial viability. Economic sustainability in housing includes:
- green building features that pass energy savings along to owners and occupants
- innovative financing models for community housing
- measures that can reduce capital and operating costs
Projects close to other concentrated investments such as rapid transit or commercial hubs also contribute to the overall economic health of communities.
Balanced Supply of Housing
Rising house prices have made homeownership more difficult. They have pushed many would-be homeowners out of the market completely and raised the need for more affordable housing options. Additionally, while Canada’s rental housing supply has housed many Canadians for decades, the rental housing stock is aging. Many buildings are in poor shape and in need of costly repairs. The overall supply is not keeping up with needs in many cities.
The National Housing Strategy will balance the overall supply of housing in Canada to respond to these various needs and pressures.
This priority area considers actions that address the supply of housing and overall stability of the Canadian housing market. These include:
- creating new affordable rental supply, including through increased capacity of the community housing sector and maintenance and preservation of existing rental stock
- working toward a better understanding of the diverse housing needs of Canadians
- supporting projects that deliver affordable homeownership options