Letter to Minister About Housing and Homelessness

The Honourable Joe Fontana,
Minister of Labour and Housing
House of Commons, Ottawa
Dear Minister,

I was most pleased to meet with you on October 8, to discuss housing issues and concerns and congratulate you on your new appointment.

I believe it's beneficial that Homelessness, Housing and the CMHC are now under one roof, so to speak, and that the continuum of housing issues is not fragmented with different Ministers and Departments.

I briefly wanted to reiterate the issues I raised:

1) A stronger financial commitment from the federal government in the next budget for a National Housing Strategy.

2) A greater emphasis on delivery of not-for-profit social housing targets, not simply broadly defined "affordable" housing. This would help ensure that housing needs are addressed for those in core need. There also needs to be much greater accountability from provinces with the allocation of federal funds to prevent diversion or stockpiling.

3) Continue productive ongoing discussions with the City of Vancouver about the Woodwards project. The City has taken very important steps to make this project a reality. I believe the province has approved 100 social housing units as part of the development. I am urge the federal government to designate federal funds into this very significant development, to ensure a further 100 units are allocated for social housing.

4) The need to reverse the trend of diminishing subsidies from CMHC on section 95.1 co-ops. We need to ensure that co-ops remain as mixed income buildings, accessible to low-income households.

In addition we discussed the issue of the reinvestment of CMHC profits, as you are aware, currently profits generated by the CMHC are folded into general revenues. I believe strongly that these funds should be reinvested into funding much needed social housing initiatives.

In closing, I would like to reiterate a request made in an earlier letter dated August 27. I urge you to direct CHMC to release the Annual Statement of Expenditures and Annual Performance Reports, as required under the bilateral housing deals. This would allow for a clear assessment of how affective the Affordable Housing Framework Agreement has been and let it be known how much remains uncommitted of the $1 billion promised.

I certainly appreciate your openness and willingness to meet, and support your idea that we should plan for future meetings. I would be interested, as you suggested, in participating in your discussions around housing and homelessness issues, including Aboriginal Housing.

I look forward to working with you on these important issues.

Libby Davies, MP (Vancouver-East)
NDP Critic for Housing and Homelessness

This Open Letter to Ministers & Public Officials was posted on October 14, 2004