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Nick Falvo

Nick Falvo

Director of Research & Data, Calgary Homeless Foundation. Economist. Research Associate, Carleton University Centre for Community Innovation. Tweets are my own.

Articles by Nick Falvo

Social assistance: Do higher benefit levels lead to higher caseloads?

16 days ago

As part of my PhD thesis, I did some statistical analysis in which I asked the question: “Do higher social assistance benefit levels lead to higher caseloads?”

I have recently updated the data and had it published in a journal.

Here’s a short summary of the journal article’s main findings.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant with a PhD in Public Policy. He has academic affiliation at both Carleton University and Case Western Reserve University, and is Section Editor of the Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale. You can check out his website here: https://nickfalvo.ca/.

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Homelessness in canada could rise due to recession

September 25, 2020

I am currently writing a report for Employment and Social Development Canada looking at the long-term impact of the current recession on homelessness. It should be ready by early November.

In the meantime, a teaser blog post I’ve just written on the same topic is available here.

Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant with a PhD in Public Policy. He has academic affiliation at both Carleton University and Case Western Reserve University, and is Section Editor of the Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale. You can check out his website here: https://nickfalvo.ca/.

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Trudeau government should spend more on affordable housing and homelessness

July 22, 2020

On July 21, the Alternative Federal Budget Recovery Plan was released. The document aims to provide public policy direction to Canada’s federal government, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

I was author of the Recovery Plan’s chapter on affordable housing and homelessness, which can be accessed here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant with a PhD in Public Policy. He has academic affiliation at both Carleton University and Case Western Reserve University, and is Section Editor of the Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale. You can check out his website here: https://nickfalvo.ca/.

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David Hulchanski class discussion

June 21, 2020

I recently participated in a panel discussion in David Hulchanski’s graduate-level social housing and homelessness course at the University of Toronto.

Points raised in the blog post include the fact that all English-speaking countries of the OECD have relatively low levels of public social spending, relatively low levels of taxation, and serious affordable housing challenges.

The link to the full blog post is here.

Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant with a PhD in Public Policy. He has academic affiliation at both Carleton University and Case Western Reserve University, and is Section Editor of the Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale. You can check out his website here: https://nickfalvo.ca/.

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Ten things to know about CMHC’s Insured Mortgage Purchase Program

April 6, 2020

In March 2020, the Trudeau government launched a new version of the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). According to CMHC’s website: “Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC.”

Here are 10 things to know:

1. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a federally-owned crown corporation. Many of us know CMHC as the federal agency that works with provincial and territorial governments to assist some low and moderate income households with rental housing. Likewise, some of us know CMHC as the lead federal agency on Canada’s National Housing Strategy (geared mostly to renters).

2. CMHC has been acting as a publicly-owned insurance company for residential mortgages since 1954. Indeed, in addition to

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Affordable housing, homelessness and the upcoming federal budget

March 19, 2020

I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of things to know about affordable housing and homelessness, as they relate to Canada’s upcoming federal budget. The overview is based on the affordable housing and homelessness chapter in the just-released Alternative Federal Budget.

A link to the ‘top 10’ overview is here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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the 2020-21 Alberta budget

March 9, 2020

Thank you, as always for your succinct and cogent analysis. Consider that increased taxation to support provincial government spending, while entirely justified, is essentially a shift in spending, not an increase, and its stimulative effect will be small. Particularly with the collapse of oil revenues, Alberta must receive substantial federal support. The federal gov’t which owns a central bank with sovereign currency has the fiscal capacity to fight long wars, bail out the whole financial system at times of crisis, and can certainly support the sick, the unemployed and ailing provinces like Alberta during the coronavirus outbreak and a recessed economy. A massive Green New Deal which allows for transition would be an excellent step. And hopefully Alberta politicians will stop

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Cost savings associated with Housing First

March 5, 2020

I’ve written a summary of a recent study I co-authored on savings to the health and justice sectors associated with Housing First (i.e., the immediate provision of subsidized housing, along with social work support, to persons experiencing long-term homelessness).

The study, based on a large sample size from Calgary, finds that every $1 spent on Housing First is associated with more than $2 of savings to the public system (i.e., the health and justice sectors).

The summary can be found here, and it includes a link to the actual study.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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income support for low-income households in Alberta

February 21, 2020

Next week, Jason Kenney’s UCP government will table its second budget. With that in mind, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about income support for low-income households in Alberta.”

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Low income is associated with lower food expenditures, including fewer purchases of milk, fruits and vegetables.

-Lone-parent families in Alberta experience very high rates of poverty.

-Child poverty dropped sharply in Alberta dropped between 2015 and 2017, due in part to the introduction of the Alberta Child Benefit, and in part to the enhancement of federal child benefits.

-In November 2018, the NDP government of Rachel Notley government announced major changes to three of Alberta’s income assistance

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Ten things to know about subsidized rental housing in Alberta

February 20, 2020

In anticipation of next week’s Alberta budget, I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of subsidized rental housing in the province.

Points raised in the blog post in include the following:

-On a per capita basis, Alberta has far fewer subsidized housing units than the rest of Canada.

-In 2017, BC’s provincial government funded more than 15 times as many housing units than Alberta, despite having a roughly similar overall population, and despite Alberta having an NDP government at the time.

-The impact of Canada’s National Housing Strategy will be modest.

-When Alberta’s provincial government does fund new subsidized units, the process lacks transparency.

-The Government of Alberta lacks a clear, public reporting structure for provincially-subsidized

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My review of Robert Clark’s book on Canada’s prisons

January 17, 2020

Robert Clark has written a very good book about Canada’s prison system. Mr. Clark worked from 1980 until 2009 in seven different federal prisons, all located in Ontario. The book is a compilation of personal accounts based on the author’s various assignments.

Since prisons can be a pipeline into homelessness, I’ve reviewed the book with great interest.

My review is available here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Assessing progress on St. John’s Plan to End Homelessness

December 29, 2019

I’ve written an assessment of the 2014-2019 St. John’s Community Plan to End Homelessness. The full assessment can be found here.

Points raised in the assessment include the following:

-Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest unemployment rate of any Canadian province. This pulls people into homelessness, while also making it more challenging for the provincial government to finance policy asks (such as subsidized housing with social work support).

-People interviewed as part of the assessment process expressed concern over the fact that nearly 40% of emergency shelter beds in St. John’s are run by for-profit providers (but paid for by the provincial government).

-The Trudeau government increased annual federal funding for homelessness (beginning with the

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Ten things to know about the 2019-20 Alberta budget

November 4, 2019

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview of the recent Alberta budget. Points raised in the post include the following:

-The budget lays out a four-year strategy of spending cuts, letting population growth and inflation do much of the heavy lifting.

-After one accounts for both population growth and inflation, annual provincial spending in Alberta by 2022 is projected to be 16.2% lower than it was last year.

-Alberta remains Canada’s lowest-taxed province. It also remains the only province without a provincial sales tax.

The full blog post can be read here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Ten things to know about poverty measurement in Canada

October 31, 2019

I’ve written a blog post providing an overview of poverty measurement in Canada. Points raised in the post include the following:

-One’s choice of poverty measure has a major impact on whether poverty is seen to be increasing or decreasing over time.

-Canada’s federal government recently chose the make the Market Basket Measure (MBM) its official poverty measure.

-According to the MBM, Canada has seen a major decrease in poverty over the past decade.

-Also according to the MBM, there is very little seniors’ poverty in Canada.

-The debate about poverty measurement in Canada has largely ignored the concept of asset poverty.

The link to the blog post is here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Ending homelessness in St. John’s: Ten things to know

October 17, 2019

I’m co-author of a recent blog post about the fight to end homelessness in St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Recent increases in federal funding for homelessness have made a very important difference to St. John’s homeless-serving sector. I’m referring here to increases brought in by the Trudeau government.

-The corrections sector in Newfoundland and Labrador contributes to the homelessness problem in St. John’s (we elaborate in the blog post).

-Service providers in St. John’s are having major challenges with software that tracks persons experiencing homelessness.

-Local stakeholders have expressed a strong desire to strengthen the local triage system used to refer people to housing and

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The use of homeless shelters by Indigenous peoples in Canada

October 4, 2019

I’ve written a blog post about the use of homeless shelters by Indigenous peoples in Canada. The post is inspired by recently-accessed, internal analysis done by staff at Employment and Social Development Canada.

One point raised in the blog post is that there is no clear indication from the presentation of the analysis that Indigenous peoples or groups were engaged in any way in the analysis (aside from the fact that their data was used). Another is that Toronto had to be omitted from the analysis because the City of Toronto lacks Indigenous identity data on persons who use the city’s homeless shelters.

The blog post can be accessed here.
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Trudeau’s proposed speculation tax

September 26, 2019

Posted by Nick Falvo under BC, bubble, cities, economic thought, foreign investment/ownership, globalization, housing, inequality, interest rates, investment, Liberal Party policy, monetary policy, municipalities, Ontario, party politics, prices, private equity, regulation, Role of government, taxation, Toronto, wealth.
September 25th, 2019Comments: none

I’ve written a blog post about the Trudeau Liberals’ recently-proposed speculation tax on residential real estate owned by non-resident, non-Canadians.

The full blog post can be accessed here.
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Related articles

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My review of Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities

July 20, 2019

I’ve just reviewed Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities. Points made in the review include the following:

-Intentional communities in general are communities built around specific goals. But in the case of this book, I mean small communities of housing sometimes made from discarded, donated and recycled material, and sometimes purpose-built, to address homelessness.

-Intentional communities are not the same thing as tent cities or tiny home communities. The former tend to have rather sophisticated governance structures, and often have legal status.

The link to my review is here.

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Alberta must find alternatives to cutting social spending

July 4, 2019

I have an opinion piece in today’s Edmonton Journal about Alberta’s current fiscal situation.

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-The Jason Kenney government will almost certainly announce cuts to social spending in the near future.

-Yet, more than 80% of Alberta’s kindergarten through Grade 3 classes currently exceed the provincial government’s own class-size targets.

-Tuition fees as a share of university operating revenue have roughly tripled in Alberta over the last 30 years.

-Social assistance (i.e., welfare) caseloads have risen substantially in Alberta since the start of the economic downturn.

-Alberta still has, by far, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any Canadian province.

-Albertans are also taxed less than any residents of any other

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Ten things to know about affordable housing in Alberta

July 1, 2019

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview blog post about affordable housing in Alberta. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-On a per capita basis, Alberta has far fewer subsidized housing units than the rest of Canada

-Some Alberta cities have much more low-cost rental housing (per capita) than others.

-Going forward, the impact of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy will be modest.

-There are considerable cost savings to be realized when investing in affordable housing, especially when the tenants have serious mental health challenges.

The link to the full blog post is here.
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Ten things to know about this year’s Alberta Alternative Budget

June 25, 2019

Posted by Nick Falvo under aboriginal peoples, Alberta, budgets, Child Care, demographics, early learning, economic growth, education, employment, employment standards, fiscal policy, health care, homeless, housing, HST, income distribution, income support, Indigenous people, inequality, labour market, macroeconomics, minimum wage, NDP, population aging, post-secondary education, poverty, privatization, progressive economic strategies, public infrastructure, public services, Regulations, Role of government, seniors, social policy, taxation, training, unemployment, user fees, women.
June 24th, 2019Comments: none

The Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) is an annual exercise whose working group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society (full disclosure: I’m

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MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta should increase social spending; cuts are not the way to go

June 24, 2019

(June 24, 2019-Calgary) With Alberta’s economy still facing challenges and vulnerabilities, the Alberta government should not be doling out tax cuts or cutting social spending, according to the Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) released today.

“Alberta still has, by far, the lowest
debt-to-GDP ratio of any province,” says Nick Falvo, editor of the report. “We
are in a good position to increase spending on education, invest in affordable
child care, offer free dental care to Albertans under 18 years, and support
other programs that would help Albertans facing unpredictability in the job
market.”

The AAB is an annual exercise whose working
group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society. The
AAB  aims to create a progressive vision
for Alberta to boost

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Homelessness, harm reduction and Housing First

May 21, 2019

I was recently invited to give a presentation at a two-day event discussing the overdose crisis and First Nations, with a focus on southern Alberta. My presentation focused on homelessness, substance use, harm reduction and Housing First.

To read the blog post synthesizing my presentation’s key points, click on this link.
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What Impact will the 2019 Federal Budget have on Canada’s Housing Market?

April 25, 2019

I’ve written a blog post about what the recent federal budget means for Canada’s housing market.

Points I make in the blog post include the following:

-The budget contains several initiatives designed to make it easier for households of modest means to become homeowners.

-Such initiatives are often framed as being win-win propositions, while their unintended consequences are rarely discussed.

The link to the full blog post is here.
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Low taxes are nothing to brag about

April 11, 2019

I’ve written an opinion piece that appears in today’s Regina Leader-Post. The piece argues that the Saskatchewan government shouldn’t brag about the province’s low-tax climate (which it recently did). Rather, I argue that taxes serve important functions.

The link to the opinion piece is here.
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An update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy

January 12, 2019

Steve Pomeroy, arguably Canada’s top affordable housing policy expert, has written a status update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS). His overview includes some great background material on Canadian housing policy generally.

Points raised in his analysis include the following:

-The Trudeau government’s much-anticipated NHS was unveiled in November 2017.

-In most provinces and territories, federal funding accounts for less than 10% of homelessness funding. Provincial, territorial and municipal orders of government fund most of the rest. Yet, just 5% of new funding under the NHS has been earmarked towards the Trudeau government’s goal of reducing chronic homelessness by half.

-Our federal government is good at funding/financing affordable housing; provincial/territorial

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Supportive housing for persons with serious mental health challenges

December 23, 2018

I’ve recently written a ‘top 10’ review of a new book on supportive housing—i.e., subsidized housing with social work support—for persons with serious mental health challenges. The book’s an anthology that was edited by three Ontario-based researchers.
A key questions that emerges in the book is: Should such housing be owned and operated by for-profit providers, or by non-profit providers? An advantage of non-profit ownership, in my opinion, is that a non-profit entity eventually owns the asset.
My full review can be found here.
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Ten considerations for the next Alberta budget

December 8, 2018

Over at the Behind The Numbers website, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten considerations for the next Alberta budget.” The blog post is a summary of a recent workshop organized by the Alberta Alternative Budget Working Group.
The link to the blog post is here.
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When tenants ‘graduate’ from Housing First programs

September 7, 2018

Over at the Research Blog of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of a study on which I’m co-author. It essentially asks the question: “When homeless people are placed into subsidized housing with social work support, for how many months/years do they require that social work support?”
The study relies on an impressive data set about ex-homeless people who’ve been placed into subsidized housing with social work support in Calgary. Methodologically, the study uses survival analysis and hazard models.
The blog post can be accessed here.
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Carey Doberstein’s book on homelessness governance

June 7, 2018

I’ve just reviewed Professor Carey Doberstein’s book on homelessness governance (UBC Press). The book looks at the way decisions are made pertaining to funding for homelessness programs in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto during the 1995-2015 period.
Points raised in my review include the following:
-Homelessness trends look quite different across the three cities. For example, it can be growing in one city, but declining in another.
-One of the book’s main arguments is that better decisions pertaining to homelessness programming are made when multiple stakeholders are engaged in decision-making early and often.
-The book argues that Vancouver and Calgary have done a relatively good job of such engagement—more so than Toronto.
My full review can be read here.
(A modified version of this

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