The Need for a 360º Approach to Affordable Housing
A Perspective on Creating a Holistic Solution to Canada's Housing Crisis
October 4, 2010 - By Annette Verschuren, President, The Home Depot Canada
Growing up in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, I was relatively insulated from the realities of Canada's affordable-housing crisis until I moved to Toronto in the mid-1980s.
Across the city, in 2009, 71,000 families were on the waiting list for subsidized housing. And looking at Canada's numbers, an estimated 1.5 million families are in need of affordable housing right now.
A number of public, private and non-governmental organizations are hard at work to provide Canadians with homes that meet their needs. But we must move faster.
And our solution must be more holistic, taking the entire picture into account: environment, community connection, volunteerism, education, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement and more.
Since 1996, The Home Depot Canada has provided tens of thousands of skilled, volunteer labour hours, and more than $20 million in cash and in-kind donations to Habitat for Humanity Canada's (HFHC) housing projects across the country. Through our experience, we have found Habitat's program does more than build homes; it empowers families and builds a sense of community. It gives families a hand up rather than a hand out.
Now, The Home Depot Canada and its foundation are making a long-term, three-year commitment of $12 million in cash and in-kind donations to support sustainable community development with HFHC. We'll achieve this through a new program HFHC is launching in 2011 with our support; the 360 Built Smart Partnership, which will:
• help families in need access and succeed with home ownership;
• reduce Habitat's environmental footprint by funding more environmentally sound building practices;
• rally communities and volunteers in Habitat's work; and
• more strategically engage public and private partners in affordable housing solutions.
The Home Depot Canada and its foundation are making this contribution in recognition that an investment in affordable housing is more than an act of charity; it is a strategic investment in our society.
Research has proven that affordable housing improves the health of children and adults, helps children achieve better grades, keeps family units stronger and improves an individual's job prospects.
As Canadian businesses, we can all help provide affordable housing by getting involved and contributing to organizations like HFHC.
This article originally appeared in a Habitat for Humanity special information feature in The Globe and Mail newspaper on Oct 4, 2010.
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