Thank you very much.
My name is John Gerrard. I'm the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, a Canadian charitable organization with a vision to provide everyone with a safe and decent place to live.
You might be asking yourself right now why a representative from Habitat for Humanity is here in front of you today. I'm here because I'm passionate about housing and shelter for the most vulnerable. I'm here today speaking on behalf of my board of directors about thinking outside the box and about the collaboration and change we will need to make in order to build more housing for all.
I would like to spend my time today not addressing the stats, the people or the circumstances, but to spend our time thinking about the solution and what we can do to provide more beds faster in a way that creates the long-term supports necessary for organizations that will continue to provide these critical services for years.
Sometimes a solution is so simple we don't see it because we all have blinders on. I'm here to tell you that a solution is very simple. It can be found today, but it requires organizations, including not-for-profits, charities like Habitat, to change and modernize, but more importantly, to identify what we're good at and what we should focus our limited resources on so that we can all work to deliver in collaboration.
Being different is challenging. It's risky and requires us to be disruptors. I would like to tell you why I think it's simple and why collaboration in recognizing skill sets is key to solving our problem here today.
What is the gap in my opinion? I believe the gap is where we ask shelters and transitional housing providers to become developers and builders versus program support delivery experts. How can we possibly do both things well? It's a question we've asked ourselves at Habitat for Humanity since I joined in 2012.
We have learned we cannot do everything and, by trying, we move further and further away from the goal line. We ourselves have to make the hard decisions and be focused on what I am proud to say our board wants to do, which is be a builder and developer in our communities for all organizations. This doesn't mean we have moved away from our mission, but what it means is that, by focusing our resources, skill sets and limited items, we can simply build more and faster.
I would like to tell you a little bit about an example. In 2012, we built one home per year on average. Today, in 2018, we have started 24 two- to five-bedroom homes with over 42 units in our pipeline today. The most exciting part is that many of these bricks and mortars will now be built and given to local community partners, including women's shelters and transitional housing.
Is this a change? Not really. Our applicants are the same as many of the organizations with which we partner today have. In fact, most of the people on our 100-person waiting list are the same individuals on the lists of 12 other organizations in our communities. This is not to downplay the need, because although we have duplication, we also know there are likely 3,000 to 5,000 people still in need of housing.
Why is this story important and important to tell? It's important because it starts to identify why I know the gap can be closed. By simply collaborating with our partners, we can focus our resources and spend more time doing what's best, reducing the need for more government funding and allowing funding and government donors to also focus funding in specific areas.
In fact, in 2017, we partnered with Halton Women's Place to provide units for their outplacement programs. We've just finished housing for Community Living and are in the process of building housing for Milton Transitional Housing and working with both Kerr Street Mission and Home Suite Hope, all charities that deliver excellent program supports for those in transitional or women's shelters.
This focus wouldn't be possible if we didn't have an engaged and passionate government helping to direct us to think differently. Without innovation and directed collaboration, our limited resources spread out to the masses will continue to deliver very scarce outcomes. We need government to drive organizations to be more collaborative and to ensure that limited resources are focused to the right organizations at the right time and serve the right part of the integrated puzzle.
Today, Habitat for Humanity can build a four-bedroom home for $200,000 because we mobilize our community, volunteers, local businesses, government and strategies to serve more families. We have developed a social enterprise developed to grow our skill sets and grow our capacity all around construction and development. Now as we build 18 more units in Burlington, a project that will take three years to complete, we will see the community raise $4.3 million of the $7-million project, and $2.7 million will come from the federal and provincial IAH programming.
Once the project is completed, Habitat for Humanity will carry the mortgages and manage the properties while our 12 community partners will manage and support the clients through their journey.
What I will say now may not put me in good standing with my peers in other not-for-profits. I'm here because we have to build more faster and the only way to do that is to focus limited resources to those that can deliver a long-term financially responsible solution. Giving us scale is what we need.
Solving the crisis cannot be done quickly and requires hard decisions at all levels of government and the front-line providers. It's important as I talk before this committee today that you understand we have already started a journey to come up with solutions to make this a reality. We have streamlined our processes and those of the other 12 working community groups. We have signed MOUs talking about how we will streamline our resources and services to work together collaboratively to build more homes, more beds and more shelters.
As a collaborative partner, we can provide the physical building, skills, capacity and build it more cost effectively. Halton Women's Place will focus on what they are good at—providing the much needed essential services to the women and children who come to them for help.
Today, this Liberal government has invested in one of the most important and critical elements of our society: housing and shelter. With the introduction of Canada's national housing strategy, “A place to call home”, government has recognized the significant value and importance of housing first. My organization applauds the bold and decisive leadership you have taken. Your committee has the opportunity to engage the national housing strategy, make recommendations to engage and direct funding, and voice the concerns to streamline to allow us to build more resources for the folks that need it the most.
If we are prepared to offer $150,000 to a rental unit, why aren't we prepared to offer $150,000 to the development of shelters and beds? On a per-door basis, we at Habitat are looking for new and decisive activities that government can help direct.
I'm asking you today to recognize that there is a difference between a capital component and a program delivery component. Don't ask the specialists of programming to build housing, the bricks and mortar. At the same time, don't ask your bricks and mortar folks to deliver programming. The traditional players that have provided housing and beds are not going to be the same players in the future. Through government-sanctioned collaborative partnerships, we can provide the much needed support through programming and shelter.
We want government to direct and require collaboration, support and drive it. We aren't going to solve these terrible situations on our own.
In closing, I ask that you think about laying a new roadway to transition and shelter housing. Think outside the box. Government must also lead.
I hope today I've planted a seed that will grow through discussion, and maybe even some debate. I hope to take this away from our talk today.
Finally, I believe we are bigger, better, stronger together. We just have to close the gap.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.