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FCM welcomes new action to house vulnerable amid pandemic

FCM welcomes new action to house vulnerable amid pandemic

Date Posted: 2020-09-22

Organization Name: Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Bill Karsten issued the following statement following the federal government’s announcement on a new Rapid Housing Initiative.

“Today’s federal commitment to support Canadians experiencing homelessness with affordable and supportive housing brings renewed hope to some of our most vulnerable—and lays the groundwork for an even closer partnership between municipalities and the federal government on affordable housing.

“Municipal leaders are on the front lines of a Canadian housing crisis that has deepened through the pandemic. Most urgently, they have moved quickly to protect those with no home of their own, including people living with mental illness and substance use challenges. Many have leased motels or retooled municipal buildings to provide more COVID-safe shelter space, but there is a critical need for more sustainable housing solutions.

“Today’s commitments help us get more people properly housed quickly. They also create jobs in the trades through required renovations, building conversions and retrofits. In short, this action blends urgent pandemic response with action toward Canada’s post-COVID recovery – and FCM will be advocating with our federal partners for more of this approach on the road ahead.

“We recognize today as a response to extensive and ongoing federal-municipal engagement through FCM. We have advocated strengthening the community-based Reaching Home homelessness initiative, as well as leveraging fast-deploy modular affordable housing. Recently, FCM released recommendations to help community housing providers permanently repurpose discount-priced private buildings as non-profit housing. That includes converting buildings like motels and rooming housing into supportive housing for vulnerable Canadians.

“We cannot overstate the urgency of moving forward on today’s commitments, and rapidly scaling up from these important first steps. From Toronto to Edmonton to Calgary to Victoria to Montreal, we have people living in tent encampments trying to maintain physical distance. With winter, flu season, and a possible second wave of COVID-19 all bearing down, going slow is simply not an option. To protect our most vulnerable and build a better, more inclusive Canada coming out of this, we need to get moving now – and FCM and our members are ready to work with our partners to drive results on the ground.”