right to housing

Right to Housing is a coalition that advocates for the creation of more social and affordable housing to house the thousands of households in Winnipeg and Manitoba living in core housing need. Core housing need means that they have to spend over 30% of their income just to keep a roof over their head. The implications are that they never have enough money for the other necessities of life like food, childcare, medical needs and transportation. These are the households that rely on Winnipeg Harvest and soup kitchens like Agape Table to feed them. Core housing need, as defined, can and usually does involve housing that is also either in poor repair and/or too crowded for the number of occupants. The 2006 Canada Census tells us that a shocking 1/3 of the renters in Winnipeg and Manitoba live in these conditions. A current trend to convert affordable rental properties to condos has brought the Canadian housing crisis to a whole new population. Now seniors, students, young couples and new Canadians are being forced to move by rising rents or down payments they don’t have. This is not just happening downtown. River Heights is a hotbed of condo conversions as any drive down Corydon or Grant Avenue will show.

Right to Housing got started in 2004 when the PPCLI left Kapyong Barracks in Winnipeg and moved to Shilo. They left over one hundred and forty empty houses. The local churches, (including St. Andrew’s River Heights United Church), organized under the River Heights Ministerial Association and tried to get permission to rent the empty houses to families in need of affordable housing. In spite of years of trying this effort has failed but out of the effort the Right to Housing Coalition was born. Over the past five years it has grown in size and mandate. Right to Housing is comprised of forty supporting organizations and over one hundred individual members. It has working groups actively strategizing at the three levels of government in an effort to stop the erosion of affordable housing due to condo conversions and kick start the creation of affordable and social housing. Activities have included presentation of briefs, letter writing, lobbying, public presentations, press conferences, and demonstrations. It is currently polling the candidates for mayor and city council to ascertain their position on housing. To learn more about Right to Housing check out www.righttohousing.ca . For more information or to get involved contact:

Clark Brownlee
Coordinator, Right to Housing
204 488-1786,
info@righttohousing.ca

There are about 900,000 units of social housing in Canada. Social housing implies some form of rent subsidy that allows folks on a low income to afford a roof over their heads. For almost all of the units in Canada, the mortgages that include operating grants that pay the rent subsidies are expiring, bringing and end to the subsidies. Without some form of government intervention, this investment in affordable social housing will be lost and the units will have to be sold or rented out at market prices. The effect on already struggling families will be devastating. In fact this erosion has already started here in Manitoba. The Right to Housing Coalition and the Red Tent Campaign have launched a petition to be tabled in the House of Commons in late April. It calls on the Government to pick up the cost of the rent subsidies and to fund badly needed repairs and upgrades to the units. If not stopped, this trend will amplify Canada’s homelessness problems making our current situation look insignificant. Please go to the website, download many copies, get your networks to sign them and spread the word electronically. For more information contact Clark Brownlee, 488-1786.