Association calling for national housing strategy

The Canadian Real Estate Association is calling on the national Conservative Party caucus to include development of a national housing strategy as part of the federal government’s fall agenda. 

The caucus is meeting this week in Charlottetown.

In a letter to Monte Solberg, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CREA CEO Pierre Beauchamp said without a 

cohesive national housing strategy, homeownership may no longer be a realistic dream of Canadians. 

Solberg is also the Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing.

“While statistics suggest that Canada enjoys a high rate of ownership, there are some concerning trends emerging behind these numbers that show home ownership is an increasingly difficult goal to obtain by certain segments of the population,” wrote Beauchamp. 

“Younger Canadians are having difficulty in accessing homeownership. Research by the Vanier Institute of the Family shows that the rate of home ownership for households aged 34 and under fell from 44 per cent in 1981 to 41 per cent in 2001. For those aged 35 to 44, the rate of ownership dropped from 72 per cent to 67 per cent over the same period.”

The CREA letter also noted that homeownership rates are dropping among new Canadians. Research by Michael Haan of the University of 

Alberta shows that ownership rates among immigrants fell from 62.9 per cent in 1981 to 57.9 per cent in 2001.

The letter to the federal minister said that some existing programs, including the Home Buyers’ Plan, operate independently of one another, and there is no way to ensure they can reach their effective potential and address new and existing needs of Canadians.

The Home Buyers’ Plan allows first-time home buyers use of up to $20,000 ($40,000 per couple) in RRSP funds towards the purchase of a home. The funds must be repaid to the RRSP over a 15-year period.

CREA has been calling upon the federal government to increase the maximum withdrawal per individual from $20,000 to $25,000 to adjust for inflation that has occurred since the plan was introduced in 1992.

Since its introduction 15 years ago, the Home Buyers’ Plan has helped 1.5-million first-time home buyers purchase over 790,000 homes.

“What is missing in Canada today is a comprehensive and cohesive national housing strategy — one that covers the entire housing continuum,” said Beauchamp. 

“While measures to support and encourage homeownership must be a central component of an effective national strategy, it must also address the needs of those who rent, those who require assisted housing, and the homeless,” he added.