Canada needs to re-invest in a national social housing program during the current economic downturn to prevent an increase in homelessness, a social activist said yest­erday as a local hunger-strike relay stretched into its third week.

“People are losing their jobs,” said Michael Byers, a political science professor at the University of B.C.

“They’re having trouble paying the rent. Having trouble meeting their mortgage payments.”
Byers, who lost nine pounds during his week without food, said investing in housing infrastructure during the downturn takes advantage of low construction costs while creating good-paying jobs.

The hunger-strike relay began two weeks ago to raise awareness about a national housing program.

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