Ontario Making Community Housing More Efficient
The Ontario government is putting people first with the release of the Community Housing Renewal Strategy. More than 250,000 families live in community housing - sometimes referred to as social and affordable housing - and many are frustrated by a system that was neglected by the previous government. The Auditor General has called it "a complex and often-confusing patchwork approach to housing," and municipalities have asked the province to make the system safer, more efficient and sustainable.
Hundreds of organizations across Ontario have long-standing agreements to provide community housing to Ontario's most vulnerable. 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. 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. See how we are simplifying the rent-geared-to-income rules.
- 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. For more information on improving waiting lists, visit the Regulatory Registry.
- Helping people in greatest need
The Auditor General found that at three municipal service managers, 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 homes. 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.
Further details on improving community safety are available on the Regulatory Registry.