Canada is in the midst of a housing crisis and municipalities are on the front lines. Housing is more than just a roof over your head, but a place to foster a sense of safety, belonging and economic opportunity. Yet across Canada, safe and affordable housing options are dwindling. This makes it harder for cities and communities to retain residents and attract new businesses.

In 2017, the federal government announced the creation of its National Housing Strategy (NHS), responding to many of FCM’s recommendations. On behalf of municipalities, FCM has been working hard to shape the rollout of the NHS: replacing expiring social housing rent subsidies, tackling backlogged social housing repairs and building the next generation of affordable housing.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic required all levels of government to scale-up existing efforts to combat Canada’s housing crisis. FCM worked with the federal government to develop the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), a program that funds the quick delivery of deeply affordable housing. Through the RHI, local leaders have been able to help Canadians facing homelessness—by repurposing available buildings, land and modular housing to deliver permanent affordable homes.

Ensuring everyone has a place to live must be our collective priority. This includes action to address all forms of homelessness, ensuring appropriate homes for both young families and seniors. It also means expanding housing in both market and non-market sectors and programs to preserve and upgrade existing affordable housing stock.

We need leadership from all orders of government to tackle the housing affordability crisis. Together, we can make sure everyone in Canada can access a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

Local housing solutions in action
Converting empty office space to homes in downtown Calgary

The City of Calgary is investing $100 million in the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program, which focuses on supporting downtown building owners in the conversion of vacant office space to residential use and the development of vibrant downtown neighbourhoods. The City has approved five projects for funding, which together remove about 665,000 square feet of empty office space from the market and create 707 homes.

Gatineau creates “Shock Committee” to tackle housing crisis

To deal with the housing crisis and a low vacancy rate, the City of Gatineau has established a “shock committee” designed to unblock housing projects by taking a several-pronged approach to develop housing as efficiently as possible. The committee is made up of housing leaders throughout the city and will act on four priority areas: affordability, accessibility, equity and efficiency. (**French only)

Filling information gaps with the Rural Housing Information System

The Rural Ontario Institute, Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, and IT Firm Itergy are partnering to create an innovative digital tool that will aggregate trends, costs, available land, available incentives, local organizations open to collaboration and more to provide municipalities with the information they need to create in the planning and construction of new affordable housing. The tool is expected to launch in the spring of 2023.

More affordable housing, faster in Toronto

Over 900 new affordable rental homes have been approved by Toronto City Council through the Open Door Affordable Rental Housing Program. Since launching in 2016, the Open Door program has supported the creation of more than 21,700 affordable rental homes in Toronto. The program accelerates the construction of affordable housing by providing City financial contributions, including capital funding fees and property tax relief, fast-tracking planning approvals, and activating surplus public land.

Related focus areas
Explore the topics we’re working on related to housing.
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