The problem of homelessness and the need for affordable housing are major issues confronting our community.
The recent murders of three people on the streets of Winnipeg, along with the National Congress on Housing and Homelessness being held this week in our city, has brought this chronic issue to the forefront.
Clark Brownlee, Coordinator of the Right to Housing Coalition, has spent several years advocating for better housing policies.
Brownlee blames the current homelessness crisis in Canada on policy decisions made at various levels of government. It’s why he believes the main focus in the upcoming federal election should be on solving this problem once and for all.
“Even though governments are focused on the middle class…the issue of homelessness affects everyone, not just the people who are struggling to find affordable housing,” says Brownlee.
Approximately one-quarter of the people renting in Winnipeg and in Manitoba are living in core housing needs, which means they spend more than 30% of their income to be housed; some spend as much as 70% of their income on rent.
“You can’t rent a modest bachelor suite for 400 dollars per month,” Brownlee says.
“People end up using food banks and soup kitchens because all of their income is going to rent.”
Brownlee is calling for profits that come from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to be directed into housing initiatives, as was done until 1992. The federal Liberal government changed this policy and now successive governments have used these profits to pay for their deficits.
“CMHC makes a profit from selling mortgage insurance,” says Brownlee. “In the last decade alone, 17 billion dollars in profit have gone to the government’s bottom line, instead of being put back into building better and more affordable housing in Canada.”
Here is the full interview with Clark Brownlee as heard on CKUW 95.9 FM:
PHOTO: “Sleeping in a Parking Lot” by Franco Folini