Hello. Thank for having me here today.
My name's Tangie Genshorek. I'm the coordinator of the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan.
Like a lot of homelessness action plans across the country, our goal is to end homelessness. In order to do that, we need a lot of different answers to the range of housing questions. We need a lot of different housing all along the continuum, but I'm here to focus on one area, and that's rental housing.
We have been talking to a lot of stakeholders. We, like other homelessness action plans, get cross-sectoral representation at our community table so that we can get the business perspective on homelessness. We want to motivate the private sector to be part of the solution. We've been looking at this for several years, and we think we've found a way to involve the private sector.
Professor Marion Steele, from the University of Guelph, has to be credited with all of the work that I'm going to talk about here today. I'm not a tax expert—my background's in architecture—but for a long time Marion Steele has done a lot of work on the issue of tax incentives to create housing. She had her master’s degree before I was born. I wish she could be here today, but unfortunately she's in Europe.
The idea of a tax incentive is, I think, a realistic and feasible measure that we could readily implement. It's been in place in the U.S. for over 25 years. It was implemented under the Reagan administration, and it's been highly effective in creating rental housing, affordable rental housing specifically. We know there's a long list of housing needs and that a variety of people require affordable housing, but we see a glaring gap in the housing continuum in regard to rental housing. There really is no way for the private market to make those numbers work. There's no way for them to get involved in creating rental housing. A tax incentive at the federal level could help make that happen, and is doing so in the U.S., so we have a model there in the U.S. to build on.
We have some well-researched ways to integrate that model for Canada. We have good research into what it would cost. It would be as little as $50 million in the first year and up to $500 million in the tenth year, a quarter of what the federal government is spending on the CMHC affordable housing initiative right now.
That's not to say that the affordable housing initiative should be gone, but we do know it's under the microscope right now for re-evaluation, and a piece of that funding could be used to create a tax incentive to fill that rental housing gap.
We also need to look at HPS and what's happening there. We don't want that to go away in lieu of a housing tax credit. This is just another tool to add to the roster of things we need to do to create affordable housing.
A syndicator creates housing tax credits that are sold to the private market, and those housing tax credits then become the funding for affordable housing, whether it's by a private developer or a non-profit developer.
A lot of people talk about MURBS. That was axed about 20 years ago. This would be different from MURBS in that it would be applicable to the non-profit sector, so a portion of the housing would be truly affordable. A portion of it would be lower-end market rental, which we need as well to stem the flow of people into homelessness. That's a key piece of the issue. We're not just picking people up at the shelter end of the continuum; we need to stop the flow of people there, and there's just no reason for anyone to build rental housing right now.
That's what I wanted to focus on here today. It's really well researched, as I say, by Marion Steele, a University of Guelph emeritus professor. She's well published. You can find her work at the C.D. Howe Institute as well.