About Ontario's Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy
Building Foundations: Building Futures - Ontario's Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy, lays the groundwork for improving access to safe, stable and affordable housing in every community across the province.
Based on the recommendations of tenants, municipalities and other housing partners, the strategy will change the way affordable housing is delivered in Ontario by reforming the province's housing system through streamlined programs, more flexible policies and proposed legislative changes.
The plan will be guided by four key pillars: putting people first, creating strong partnerships, supporting affordable housing options and accountability.
Putting People First
Simplifying rent-geared-to-income calculations
Ontario is proposing to simplify the current rent-geared-to-income (RGI) calculation process, by reducing the many criteria now used to calculate income and by moving to an annual calculation process.
Not only would this reduce the administration burden for tenants and municipalities, but it would allow tenants to use extra money to increase their standard of living and plan for the future rather than having it clawed back on their rent.
Improving waiting lists
Ontario will work with municipal partners and housing stakeholders to improve the current waiting list system for social housing to make it more transparent, accountable and client-focused. This will mean encouraging best practices among municipalities in using the current flexibility of the waiting list system and introducing new waiting list information reporting requirements to better inform decisions.
Helping victims of domestic violence
To help victims of domestic violence escape unsafe and abusive situations, Ontario's policy to give victims of domestic violence priority placement on the social housing waiting list will remain in place.
Ontario will work with municipalities to identify ways to improve the implementation of this policy and encourage more local housing options to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence.
Creating Stronger Partnerships
Consolidating housing and homeless programs
There are currently more than 20 provincial housing and homeless programs that operate independently, have their own funding rules and which can be difficult for people to access.
The strategy will consolidate this patchwork of programs to allow municipalities to use funding in a more flexible manner to better meet people's individual housing needs.
New legislation would, if passed, remove the requirement for municipalities to seek the Minister's consent for a range of activities. In this and other ways, the strategy proposes to empower municipalities with the flexibility they need to make more decisions independently.
Supporting Affordable Options
Allowing second units
Second units provide an important source of affordable housing for low and moderate-income households and are offered at some of the most affordable rental rates. They also give homeowners the opportunity to earn additional income to help meet the costs of homeownership or providing housing for elderly parents or live-in caregivers.
There are many existing planning and financial tools already available to municipalities that encourage affordable housing. To further expand affordable housing opportunities, proposed amendments would be introduced to the Planning Act to require municipalities to establish policies allowing second units in new and existing developments.
Protecting non-profit and co-op housing
Non-profit and co-op housing providers have an important role in Ontario's housing system and continue to demonstrate improved capacity to deliver effective housing services for tenants.
To support this sector, the strategy will give municipalities more options to work with non-profit and co-op housing providers with the goal being to maintain or restore community-based governance. Proposed legislation would also require housing providers to develop board and staff renewal plans to address management and capacity challenges.
Local housing and homeless plans
If proposed legislation is passed, municipalities, in consultation with community partners, will be required to develop comprehensive, multi-year plans to address local housing and homelessness needs, and report annually to the public on the progress of these plans.
Municipalities would be given more flexibility to design their social housing waiting lists to respond to local priorities, subject to requirements. New waiting list reporting requirements would be used to develop better information across the province.
Under the strategy's accountability framework, the province and municipalities will be required to track progress on housing and homelessness using clear performance indicators:
- The Ontario Housing Measure measures the percentage of households with children under 18 with incomes below 40 per cent of the median household income and paying more than 40 per cent of their income on housing.
- The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's annual Rental Affordability Indicator measures changes in the affordability of Ontario's 10 largest rental markets over time.
- Social Housing Tenant Satisfaction Surveys will inform housing providers, municipalities and the province on ways to improve.
- Local performance measures and the tenant satisfaction survey will be developed in consultation with municipalities, stakeholders and tenants. Municipalities will begin collecting this information in 2012 and reporting on performance measures by 2013.
Calling On Our Federal Partners
The future of housing depends on sustained and adequate funding, which is why a long-term commitment is needed from the federal government. This includes maintaining or restoring lost federal operating funds for social housing.
Current federal funding is either short-term or declining. This can limit some housing providers' ability to fully participate in capital projects that build more affordable housing.
Ontario will partner with municipalities to engage the provinces, territories and the federal government to create a housing framework for Canada that includes long-term, flexible funding for affordable housing. This will include maintaining or restoring lost federal operating funds for social housing.