Ontario's Community Housing Renewal Strategy: Putting People First
Ontario's community housing system provides a home to those who have difficulty finding housing in the private market. Community housing provides homes to low-income individuals, seniors, those living on social assistance, and individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health and addiction challenges and people who have experienced homelessness. Community housing also provides priority access to those who have experienced domestic violence and human trafficking.
In every decision we make, our government is putting people first. We have heard from so many with lived experience that today's community housing system just isn't working.
Last spring, we introduced the Community Housing Renewal Strategy that will transform this fragmented and inefficient system into one that is more streamlined, sustainable and ready to help the people who need it the most - including introducing regulations to make it work better for tenants and housing providers:
- Modernizing the rules to make it easier for tenants to go to school or work
Ontario's current community housing rules penalize people for working more hours or going back to school. By July 1, 2021, we will remove these barriers.
- Using income tax information to calculate rent
Today's rent-geared-to-income formula includes over 60 possible income exclusions. Municipalities, housing providers and tenants spend hours collecting paperwork and filling out forms, sometimes multiple times a year.
We are cutting red tape by using a tenant's income tax information, where available, to calculate rent just once a year. This is fairer, faster and easier for both tenants and housing providers. Service managers will have the discretion to implement this regulation on July 1, 2020 or July 1, 2021.
- Filling vacant units faster
Today, people applying for community housing can refuse an offer three times and still stay at the top of the waiting list. Housing providers must offer the unit to applicant after applicant, while the unit sits empty and the waiting list gets longer.
By January 1, 2021 tenants will prioritize their housing choice and must accept the first unit they are offered. Service Managers can make exceptions for extenuating circumstances, for example if the applicant is in hospital.
- Helping people in greatest need
We are exploring ways to 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.
When people have the housing they need, they have better health, education and employment outcomes. When housing is affordable and in areas near transit, schools, workplaces and amenities, individuals and families can thrive.
The regulations come into effect in 2020 and 2021 to give Service Managers time to adapt their processes, train staff, and notify applicants and tenants.