Spending federal dollars on housing makes good economic sense
The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association made this claim in a submission to the finance committee of the House of Commons as part of consultations for the 2012 budget. The Ottawa-based advocacy group serves as a voice for nonprofit housing providers, municipalities, and provincial and territorial housing ministries.
In its August brief, the CHRA cited a recent report on Canada’s Economic Action Plan. This is the federal government’s stimulus spending plan that included $2 billion worth of housing-related measures over a period of two years.
According to the association, spending on housing was better for the economy compared to tax cuts. “In examining expenditures and multipliers, housing investment measures had a 1.4 dollar impact on the level of real GDP of one dollar in 2010, which was significantly higher in that year than the impact of personal tax measures (0.9) or business tax measures (0.2),” the CHRA paper states.
It also said that federal expenditures in housing attracted significant contributions from provincial and territorial governments amounting to over $1.3 billion.
The association likewise cited the economic cost of inaction on homelessness. It mentioned estimates made by the provincial government of Alberta that it takes $114,850 to provide services per year to a chronically homeless individual. It takes a lot less—$34,000 annually—to house that person.