Making Community Housing Safer, More Efficient and Sustainable

Published on April 17, 2019

MPP Skelly says comprehensive strategy long overdue


Hamilton - The Ontario government has released its Community Housing Renewal Strategy, with an eye toward fixing what the Auditor General has called "a complex and often-confusing patchwork approach to housing.” Municipalities have asked the province to make the system safer, more efficient and sustainable.

Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly says more than $29 million of that funding will be coming to Hamilton, through five Housing and Homelessness Programs.

Hundreds of organizations across Ontario have long-standing agreements to provide community housing to Ontario's most vulnerable and as many of these agreements approach their end, our government is introducing a streamlined legislative framework and new funding opportunities to help them become more sustainable.

Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly says this is good news for the nearly 14,000 families currently in community housing and the more than 6700 on the wait list in the Hamilton area. “When people are facing life challenges that include access to affordable housing, they need a system that is efficient and responsive, as well as a safe and decent place to live while they deal with those challenges”, said Skelly. “Our approach will streamline a cumbersome process, while ensuring we work with municipalities and non-profits to address issues like disrepair, overcrowding and long wait lists."

We will also take some early steps to help the system work better for tenants:

  • Helping tenants become economically self-sufficient - In other provinces, people tend to move out of social housing within five to seven years. In Ontario, it takes longer, because the system penalizes people for working or going to school.
    The proposed changes remove rules that punish tenants for working more hours or going back to college/university.
  • Making it easier to predict and calculate rent - In the current system, calculating rents is too complicated. The rent-geared-to-income formula includes over 60 different factors. The proposed changes will make it easier for tenants to predict their rent and for housing providers to calculate rent, based on income tax information.
  • Shortening waiting lists - Right now, social housing applicants can refuse an offer three times. Some choose to stay at the top of the waiting list, hoping for a different unit. In the meantime, a unit sits empty waiting for someone to accept an offer. Housing is in short supply and we can't afford to have empty units while so many people are desperate for homes. The proposed changes will shorten waiting lists by having tenants prioritize their first choice and accept the first unit they are offered. Service Managers will be able to make exceptions for extenuating circumstances.
  • Helping people in greatest need - The Auditor General found that at three municipal service areas, about 900 applicants on the social housing waiting list owned at least one home. In one service area, 709 applicants had assets over $500,000 and 65 people had assets worth over $1 million. The proposed changes will ensure community housing helps those in greatest need by requiring all social housing applicants to meet a locally established asset limit test. Tenants who receive child support payments will no longer be penalized financially.
  • Making community housing safer - Currently, housing providers can evict people for things like drug trafficking or harming people or property, but the same people can reapply to live in the same building. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home. We are making community housing safer for people who live there.The proposed changes will give municipalities the tools they asked for: former tenants who have been evicted for serious criminal activity can be turned away.

 

More information here.