Each year on National Housing Day, Canadian municipalities and increasing numbers of Canadians unite to send a strong message to the federal government: Canada needs a national housing program that will end homelessness in one of the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

They also want their message to give hope to those who are homeless or faced with this prospect while sounding a ‘call to action’ to other Canadians.

Members of Toronto’s Advisory Committee on Homeless & Socially Isolated Persons -- and their counterparts across Canada -- busily prepare for National Housing Day -- November 22. This day is hosted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the National Housing and Homelessness Network and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. The date was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Big City Mayor’s declaration of homelessness as a national disaster.

From Halifax to Vancouver, rallies and events bring concerned individuals and organizations together to raise loud voices in a call for federal action on a National Housing Strategy. With a federal election on the horizon, many organizers and supporters are counting on vote-conscious federal politicians becoming increasingly receptive to public demands for affordable housing.

Did you know about National Housing Day? Are you aware of national grassroots activities that call for a fully-funded national housing program? Answer ‘no’ to one or both of these questions and you’ll see where the problem lies. Until housing is an individual concern, housing will not gain recognition as a national concern.

Until well-housed Canadians become as concerned about the quality and quantity of housing available across this country as they are about their own home, many feel little will change. Until Canadians realize that community security and economic development are enhanced by a well-housed population, the standard of housing in Canada will continue to spiral downward.

What comfortable Canadians may not realize is that since the main thrust of real estate and housing development concentrates on the wealthy and fairly well-off, there is little choice for middle-class and lower- income individuals and families in communities across the country. Since we are still building temporary housing – housing that must be moved out of if your lifestyle or income changes – individuals and families in all economic groups who want security of tenure may find themselves without choice if their present home becomes unsuitable.

Yes, we need a national housing strategy to provide safe, comfortable housing, but we also need a national initiative to ensure Canadians have the wide variety of housing and financial options necessary to ensure our communities are sustainable.

Last year, the mayors of Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, North Bay, Parry Sound, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax were among many others across the country to issue official proclamations backing National Housing Day. These are just a few of the community events planned for this year:

  • Edmonton, Alberta – Film screening, “Home Sweet Home” Forum, poetry reading, workshops.
  • Parry Sound, Ontario – Biggest and best ever "Homes For All March".
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia – Housing rally and march
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland – A Conference, a 24-page newspaper insert circulated via The Telegram to 60,000 households across the city during the week of Nov 18-22.

    How will you and your community get involved in our National Housing Day?

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