How to make community housing work better for Ontarians

Posted on June 28, 2019 in Inclusion Delivery System

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27/06/2019.   By Garima Talwar Kapoor, Hannah Aldridge

Submission to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding proposed amendments related to community housing

On April 17, 2019, the Ontario government launched its Community Housing Renewal Strategy to sustain, repair, and grow Ontario’s community housing system. The strategy was accompanied with a proposal to change the regulations for the social housing waiting list and for the Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) assistance calculation. These changes aim to simplify the existing system and maximize the use of community housing.

While we welcome efforts to reduce complexity and ensure that community housing serves those in greatest need, our two submissions highlight how the proposed regulations could be further amended to achieve these goals.

Community housing is often the only way that low-income Ontarians can live in affordable, secure housing which is appropriate to their needs. The length of the waiting list shows the extent to which demand for social housing outweighs supply.

We welcome the government commitment to change the processes around community housing to make it better at serving those in greatest need. The proposed regulation change to make it easier for tenants to transfer to a unit with another provider and the proposed change to annual income assessments are both excellent examples of how this can be achieved. In other areas we highlight potential risks and suggest alternative options.

We caution against regulation changes that reduce the waiting list without improving housing outcomes. For example, to reduce vacancy periods and administration costs, the proposed regulations would require those on the waiting list to accept their first housing offer which risks creating worse outcomes for those in greatest housing need. Our submission on the waiting list changes argues that “choice-based lettings” is a tried and tested alternative which would achieve the same outcomes while providing tenants with a degree of choice over their future home.

The proposed regulations to simplify the RGI rent amounts aim to reduce barriers to work and decrease administrative complexity. However, as currently outlined they would create a two-tier system that would make it harder for social assistance recipients to enter employment. To avoid this, our submission on the RGI calculation recommends the government consider disregarding social assistance payments from income for the purposes of calculating RGI rent amounts.

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