National Housing Day in Canada Date in the current year: November 22, 2024

National Housing Day in Canada National Housing Day is observed in Canada on November 22 every year. It was created to raise awareness of the housing crisis and homelessness that were declared a national disaster back in 1998.

Mass homelessness started to become a problem in Canada in the 1980s due to social spending cuts and the de-industrialization of market economy that created more low wage jobs. Following the cancellation of provincial and federal housing programs and cuts to social assistance rates in the 1990s, homelessness became a chronic state.

In the spring of 1998, a group of diverse individuals came together to address the growing problem of homelessness in the city of Toronto: a priest, a lawyer, a retired Member of Parliament, a street nurse, a retried teacher, a university professor, a community organizer, a housing advocate, an investment manager, a real estate investor, and a formerly homeless men. They founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TRDC) and started working to declare homelessness a national disaster.

In October 1998, TRDC held a press conference to issue the State of Emergency Declaration, launching their national campaign to declare homelessness a national disaster requiring emergency humanitarian relief and seek solutions and funds to deal with the problem. The declaration was supported by Toronto City Council, and later, on November 22, 1998, a similar motion supporting the declaration was passed by the Big City Mayors’ Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Beginning in 2000, November 22 was recognized as National Housing Day in Canada. Its earlier iterations focused on raising awareness of the fact that Canada was the only G8 country without a national housing strategy. The federal government finally launched the National Housing Strategy (NHS) in 2017. Since then, National Housing Day has been focused on meeting the Strategy’s goals and developing potential improvements to NHS programs and initiatives.

The National Housing Strategy is a ten-year federal plan with a budget of $82+ billion to ensure that Canadians across the country have access to affordable housing that meets their needs. The main goal of the Strategy is to invest in the construction of up to 160,000 new homes, give 530,00 families a place to call home, and reduce chronic homelessness by 50%. NHS programs and initiatives help build new affordable housing, as well as repair, renovate and modernize existing affordable and community housing.

National Housing Day events are held in many cities and towns across Canada. They include meetings with housing advocates, open lectures and presentations, charity fundraisers, panel discussions, documentary screenings, social media campaigns, summits, seminars, public marches, rallies, and more. It should be noted, however, that over the past few years there have been complaints about National Housing Day being corporatized and co-opted by developers and thus losing its original focus on people facing housing challenges.

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National Housing Day in Canada, observances in Canada, National Housing Strategy, Toronto Disaster Relief Committee