Report and Recommendations for Government Action and Statement of Concern
Housing for Low Income Canadians
Lindsey, Robert (Rev.)
Publisher: Poverty Task Force of the United Church of Canada, Toronto, Canada
Year Published: 1977
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX273
The report identifies maldistribution of income as the prime factor in the housing problem.
Abstract: This report identifies maldistribution of income as the prime factor in the housing problem and the attitudes and actions of all levels of government as the second most important factor. The task force expresses its dismay by judging income maintenance planning in Canada as a trail of broken dreams. In 1971 the Report of the special Senate Committee, (Croll Report) called for a Guaranteed Annual Income. It was shelved. In 1973 the Working Paper on Social Security in Canada was introduced as a concept of income supplements for the working poor and as a support for those unable to derive income from work. This was scrapped. Now the Federal-Provincial Social Security Review is being shelved and the federal government has instituted yet another study to look at the possibility of brining income to Canada's poor through the tax system. The report identifies misconceptions which obscure the need for income programs. An appeal to the sanctity of the market economy by both governments and commerical lobbies blurs actual reasons for poverty and hobbles creative government intervention. The notion that transfer programs act as disincentives is blinding the public to evidence that 50% of Canada's poor people work, while the other half are unemployable because of health, family, education and job markets. Also hidden is the fact that in proportion to their resources, the lowest fifth on the income spectrum pay most taxes, while middle-upper income groups receive millions in assistance through tax exemptions, write offs and shelters.
The report says income and housing policies must be integrated and gives reasons why this integration isn't happening. There are thousands on lists for public housing who wait in overcrowded slum conditions. Assisted home ownership programs are out of reach for low income people, while non-profit co-op housing is hampered by a lack of commitment to community involvement. Politicians are judged as not comprehending the need. This is due to their being in office for too short a time to be informed or because they are split by encouraging a private housing economy while trying to be committed to non-profit housing for low income people. The primary problem is an attitude that regards the housing industry as a means of regulating the economy rather than ensuring an adequate supply fo those in need. As a result, the government reluctantly undertakes the low income housing field after the private sector judges it as unprofitable. This leads to undesirable developments related to urban growth near railways and factories, but removed from urban transportation, competitive shopping and normal amenities. This trend will continue, says the report, unless land speculation is brought under control, lot sizes are reduced, and housing for a variety of income strata becomes mandatory in new-subdivisions.