A failing fight against homelessness

In 2017, the government launched its National Housing Strategy to create more affordable housing, which includes a sub-plan aimed at cutting chronic homelessness in half by 2028.

Five years in, are the feds any closer to this goal? The short answer: No one knows. 

Driving the news: A report by Canada’s Auditor General found no answer to whether the plan has done anything to improve housing outcomes for Canadians, and each of the separate agencies in charge said they were not responsible for addressing homelessness.

  • Infrastructure Canada spent ~$1.36 billion between 2019 and 2021 on the program but answered  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to whether homelessness increased or decreased since.
  • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which is leading the Housing Strategy, also claimed it did not know who benefited from the initiative.

Why it matters: Homelessness takes a financial toll on cities, burdens the healthcare system, and causes incalculable human suffering for those directly impacted. Tackling such ingrained systemic issues takes targeted and properly accounted-for spending. 

  • The lack of accountability also casts doubt on the National Housing Strategy’s broader goal of building the 160,000 affordable housing units it promises to build.

Zoom out: The report claims it is unlikely the plan will meet its homelessness reduction goals without both CMHC and Infrastructure Canada better coordinating their efforts.