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Changing our Mindset so that Housing is Viewed as a Human Right Would Change the Political Will
Adequate housing is a fundamental human right recognized in international law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, to which Canada is a party. But homelessness is still a big issue in our country.
Christina Maes Nino, an Executive Director of Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association, tells us what affordable housing means and what needs to change to make housing more affordable in Winnipeg.
Over the last 30 years increasingly, people have seen housing as an investment, vs in the past, it has been seen as a home. There are investment groups that are purchasing housing and making a profit by increasing the rent and the cost of housing. It certainly contributes to increasing costs across Canada. In Winnipeg, there are some other factors. Poverty is a major issue for many households and individuals. Recently we also have seen some issues with the chain of supply of building materials which has in impact on the cost of new housing. The development costs have been rising. A number of factors have contributed to the crises in Winnipeg.
The huge factor of that is that the investment that the government has made into affordable housing is gone down since 1992. It has gone up a little bit over the past five years, but it is still substantially lower than it was up until the early nineties. Investors see homes as investments rather than as needed homes for living - instead of something everyone deserves and has a right to.
We really need to change our mindset, according to Nino. If gold were a human right, we’d have to have different conversations about dealing with gold trading. We don’t really need gold, but people need a home. She goes on to explain that there is a clear reason people experiencing homelessness are at risk of violence and dying young. Homelessness is a death sentence for people. If we believe it’s a right, then we need to put our actions and money behind it. That’s something we haven’t done yet, she says.
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