November 23, 2017 / 2:10 PM / in 23 days

Canada's 'historic' recognition of housing rights could end homelessness: U.N.

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Canada’s move to recognize housing as a fundamental right in its new national housing strategy marks a historic step towards ending homelessness, a senior United Nations official said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the long-awaited housing strategy on Wednesday in response to U.N. criticism of Canada’s “persistent housing crisis”.

Under the plan, up to 100,000 affordable housing units will be created and some 300,000 low-income households will receive financial assistance towards affordable housing.

“What makes this a truly historic moment is the government’s acknowledgement that housing is a human right and its intention to recognize this through a rights-based housing strategy as well as in legislation,” Leilani Farha said on Thursday.

“There is little doubt that they could be real leaders in eliminating homelessness,” Farha, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the right to housing, said in a statement.

Critics said the plan did little to free up more land to stem a growing affordability crisis after a long housing boom priced many poorer Canadians out of buying and rental markets.

With the new housing strategy, the government has committed to halving “chronic homelessness” by 2028.

It also promises to focus on the housing needs of vulnerable people, including indigenous communities, older women, and women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

The two new independent bodies that will oversee the plan’s implementation offer affected groups a chance to be heard on issues related to housing, Farha said.

Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran. Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.

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