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This article was published 7/3/2018 (586 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two Winnipeg groups that advocate for affordable housing are eager to see whether Manitoba will pony up its own dollars in the wake of the federal government’s announcement of a national housing strategy.
On Wednesday, the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and the Right to Housing Coalition released a joint report titled, "Finally, a National Housing Strategy: Now Let’s Work Together."
Author Josh Brandon, presented six recommendations for how the national housing strategy can work effectively with the provinces’ and territories’ current social housing systems. (Brandon also announced this week he will run for a Winnipeg city council seat in the Daniel McIntyre ward this fall.)
"To complete a national housing strategy requires co-operation of every level of government," he said at a news conference.
His first recommendation is for the provincial government to match federal funding levels, which could amount to more than $40 billion over 10 years if each province or territory pays its share.
Manitoba would be on the hook for $250 million to $300 million over 10 years under the current framework.
The 2018 Manitoba budget will be unveiled Monday. Brandon said he hopes to see significant investments in new social housing and repairs to existing units outlined in the document.
"We have already over 40,000 Manitoba households that are in poor housing," he said.
This number encapsulates Manitobans on wait-lists for affordable housing units, or living in housing that’s overcrowded or in need of repair.
"For those households, they’ve been waiting long enough. When you’re living in poor housing, that bears on your health. It limits your ability to succeed in education, training or in the job market," Brandon said.
"It puts strains on families, that put strains on other social systems that we have in our province — whether that’s Child and Family Services, our justice system, our health system, our education system. They are all weighed down by the lack of affordable housing in this province."
A spokesperson for Families Minister Scott Fielding said the provincial housing strategy is still in the works. Last year, the government solicited Manitobans’ opinions for the forthcoming strategy and received more than 1,400 written and online responses.
"The provincial housing strategy is being prepared to align with the federal government’s national housing strategy and timing of its release depends on current negotiations with Ottawa to determine how (the strategies) can complement each other and have a collective impact," the spokesperson said by email. "We are committed to working with the federal government to reach the right national housing strategy partnership for Manitoba communities, housing providers and clients.
"We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the government of Canada and collaborating to reduce homelessness and achieve improved outcomes for low-income households."
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 12:32 AM CST: Full write through