Authored by: Sarah Cooper

Grant: Partnering for Change: Community-Based Solutions for Aboriginal and Inner-City Poverty - 2012-2019
Category: Housing and Neighbourhood Revitalization

Excerpt:

Public housing plays an essential role in Manitoba’s housing system. It provides a specific form of housing: decommodified housing that is affordable to low-income households. This means that it has been removed from the market by focusing on its use as a home, rather than on its potential for financial gain, and has low rents. Across Canada, public housing has provided good quality, affordable housing for decades.

In many places across Canada and beyond, however, public housing is threatened by redevelopment, sale, or transfer to nongovernment organizations. The loss of public housing units is part of two broader trends: seeing housing as a private investment, rather than as a place to live, and locating responsibility for social welfare in the market rather than in government. These trends affect both current and prospective tenants, making access to housing more difficult for low-income households and households with particular housing needs.

Manitoba is not exempt: it, too, faces the potential loss of public housing units. The recent KPMG report produced for the Province of Manitoba recommends moving away from publicly-provided housing to a mix of housing vouchers for the private market and housing provided by private and nonprofit organizations through a contract with the province. At the same time, the Province of Manitoba is negotiating the sale of two public housing complexes in Winnipeg to nonprofit organizations. But what are the implications for current and prospective tenants living in public housing?

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