Resourcing Rights Claimants: Closing the Gap to Exercising the National Housing Strategy Act

January 25, 2024

Resourcing Rights-claimants Paper - National Right to Housing Network 2024

The evidence is clear that the federal government needs to invest in a $4.5 million funding stream to support community advocates and organizations in developing, organizing, and mobilizing around systemic right to housing claims under the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA).

Background

The National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) of 2019 introduced landmark human rights-based, access-to-justice mechanisms aimed at addressing systemic housing issues in Canada. These mechanisms enable rights holders who have borne the brunt of Canada’s housing crisis to have their voices heard, claim their rights, and offer solutions to systemic issues affecting their communities.

There is tremendous power in these access-to-justice mechanisms of the NHSA (including reviews by the Federal Housing Advocate and review panels). If well implemented, they can foster equitable, sustainable, and community-driven solutions that transform Canada’s housing laws, policies, and programs.

However, the full potential of these NHSA mechanisms risks being unrealized due to a critical gap: the lack of dedicated government funding to support the meaningful engagement of civil society and rights holders, and to facilitate community leadership, education, and organizing around systemic housing issues.

The National Right to Housing Network (NRHN) has stepped into this void, supporting rights holders in exercising their rights and amplifying their voices. However, the sustainability of these efforts and the realization of impactful change demand a formal, dedicated funding stream from the federal government.

Our Report: Resourcing Rights Claimants

Drawing insights from extensive community engagement sessions, seventeen expert interviews, and best practices observed in analogous programs like the Court Challenges Program of Canada and the Indigenous Justice Strategy Engagement Fund at the Department of Justice, the evidence presented in this report unequivocally indicates the need for the Government of Canada to create a community-led funding program that bolsters advocates and organizations in developing, organizing, and mobilizing around systemic housing claims under the National Housing Strategy Act.

Our report makes an urgent call for a $4.5 million targeted funding program to empower individuals and civil society organizations to engage effectively with these NHSA access-to-justice mechanisms, and to ensure that the right to housing transcends rhetoric and becomes a lived reality for all people in Canada.

By investing in this funding program, the federal government is investing in a transformative rights-claiming process. It empowers civil society and grassroots advocates to shape their own futures and contribute to solving one of the greatest challenges facing every community across Canada today: housing and homelessness.

Let’s not just envision a future where every person in Canada has a home; let’s make it a reality.

READ THE REPORT

Simply put, in the absence of a funding program there is little to no capacity for individuals, non-governmental organizations, or Indigenous organizations to advance systemic claims and exercise their rights under the NHSA. This requires an urgent remedy to ensure that the access to justice mechanism instituted can function as intended.

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