Prime Minister Stephen Harper should move immediately to release funds designated for affordable housing, according to the leaders of four Canadian churches – Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of the Anglican Church of Canada, Bishop Ray Schultz of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Rev. Peter Short of the United Church of Canada and Henry Hess of the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
In June 2005, Parliament approved a budget that included $1.6 billion dollars over two years for new affordable housing. Eight months have passed and these dollars remain uncommitted, the church leaders note.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the church leaders cite the involvement of church members across Canada to care for the most vulnerable in their communities, through food banks, community suppers, and shelter programs. “Yet they know these acts of charity are not enough. … Without secure, affordable and long-term housing, ‘home’ for the people they serve will never be possible.”
Church groups and other civil society groups are ready to act, they say, to partner with federal, provincial, and territorial governments and develop housing that is “long overdue and desperately needed.”
“Unless you take decisive action to allocate these funds,” the church leaders say, “we fear they may simply revert to debt reduction – making only a marginal difference to Canada’s economy and doing precious little to address the social and infrastructural deficits behind Canada’s crisis of homelessness and affordable housing.”
The four leaders remind the Prime Minister, who has asked God to bless Canada, of the words of the prophet Isaiah, explaining that God blesses you “when you share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house.”
“We are asking you to spend tax dollars nowin a way that will help to bring the homeless poor into their own house, and allow them the dignity of sharing their bread with others.”
- Letter to Prime Minister Harper (PDF file)
For more information, please contact Maylanne Maybee, Justice Education Coordinator, the Anglican Church of Canada; 416-924-9199, ext 219
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