January 23, 2008 / 11:00 PM / in 10 years

Canada's cities call for national housing strategy

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada can end chronic homelessness in 10 years if it adopts a national housing strategy, a group representing the country’s local governments said on Wednesday.

But Canada also risks a jump in housing problems if the federal government does not renew subsidies that have begun to expire and a C$2 billion ($1.96 billion) housing program that ends in 2009, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said.

A national affordable housing strategy could cost between C$2 billion and C$6.4 billion annually, depending how much the federal and provincial governments rely on new construction or buying existing properties.

In addition to providing new affordable housing, Canada needs to fix its existing social housing at a rate of 20,000 units per year, according to the group, which released its report in Vancouver at a meeting of mayors from Canada’s largest cities.

A report from the federation last week warned that, despite an increase in home ownership levels, access to affordable housing remains difficult in big cities.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Rob Wilson

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