June 4, 2001

New report exposes "Canada's dirty little secret"
on eve of special United Nations housing summit

TORONTO - On the eve of a special United Nations session on housing and human settlements, the National Housing and Homelessness Network (NHHN) has released a new study called "Canada's dirty little secret: homelessness in the shadow of Parliament Hill". The U.N. session in New York City is being held on the fifth anniversary of Habitat II, the global housing summit held in Istanbul in 1996.

Countries of the world, including Canada, are being asked to report to the United Nations on their progress in meeting the goals of the Habitat Agenda, endorsed at the Istanbul meeting, which sets the goal of "housing for all". "Canada has a proud reputation on the world stage for our record in meeting the housing needs of Canadians from the late 1940s to the early 1990s," says Michael Shapcott, author of the NHHN report.

"After all, senior governments funded about 650,000 units of social housing that continue to provide good homes to more than 1.8 million Canadians." "But all that changed in the last decade," says Shapcott. "Our report shows that federal and provincial governments have cut almost half a billion dollars from housing spending in the last eight years.

All this has helped to trigger a nation-wide housing crisis that has pushed 2.25 million women, men and children to the brink of homelessness. The housing crisis, in turn, has spurred a cross-country homelessness disaster that is growing worse." "In 1996 the federal government stood in Istanbul to support the Habitat goal of 'housing for all', while that same year, Ottawa announced plans to abandon its role in administering social housing programs", says Shapcott.

"On the global stage, Ottawa preaches the housing line, but at home, Canada is the only major country in the world without a national housing strategy." The 48-page report is available electronically (in .pdf format). 

For more information, contact TDRC (the secretariat for the National Housing and Homelessness Network) at

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