When folks have access to safe, affordable, and accessible housing, they have a much better chance of staying employed, going to school, feeding themselves and their families, and living more stable lives.
The current housing affordability crisis in East Ontario, and across Canada, has led many low-to-moderate-income households to become more vulnerable to poor mental and physical health outcomes. The severity of housing precarity is evident in Ontario’s rental market, where one-third of the population are renters, and trends show a growing number of renter households each year.
With the hope of creating a more inclusive and affordable housing landscape across Ontario, the provincial government, in collaboration with various stakeholders and United Ways across the province, has launched its Affordable Housing Report.
The report outlines seven key recommendations, which set the stage for transformative change:
- Land and Assets: Focus on making surplus lands and assets available to non-profit and cooperative housing providers. This involves prioritizing access, forming partnerships with community land trusts, and establishing land lease agreements with municipalities.
- Investments: Call for increased investment in affordable housing development, emphasizing upfront, low-barrier pre-construction funding, guaranteed operational funding, and a targeted approach for rural and remote communities.
- Incentives: Highlight the need for development incentives prioritizing non-profit housing organizations. This includes transparent processes to waive fees, targeted tax incentives, and strategies to curb financialization in the housing market.
- Preservation: Focus on preserving existing affordable housing through initiatives like launching non-profit rental acquisition programs, expanding funding programs, and adopting policies to strengthen rental replacement.
- Supports and Protections: Emphasize providing housing stabilization and eviction prevention supports alongside strengthening tenant protections. Recommendations include increased housing allowances, community engagement, and centralized coordination for housing supports.
- Indigenous Housing: Advocate for a dedicated strategy to address housing challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples. This involves supporting partnerships, eliminating taxes on construction projects, and prioritizing homelessness services for Indigenous communities.
- Collaboration and Partnerships: Stress the importance of coordinated housing strategies and partnerships between governments and various sectors, including matching investments, creating a housing secretariat, and fostering collaboration between private developers and non-profit housing providers.
The ‘7 in 7’ Regional Housing Plan
The ‘7 in 7′ Regional Housing Plan, led by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC), aims to provide 7,000 new affordable rental units in seven years. This plan aligns with Ontario’s goal of constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031. The EOWC emphasizes the critical role of the community housing sector and the need for increased capital investments to grow and preserve affordable housing.
Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa has created an emergency shelter crisis task force in response to a significant increase in demand for shelter beds, with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe warning that the existing system will be overwhelmed as winter approaches. The task force, co-chaired by the mayor and Deputy Mayor Laura Dudas, will be looking to address the growing issue, exacerbated by a 167 per cent surge in first-time shelter users since January 2023.
A Collective Call to Action:
The housing crisis demands swift and decisive measures, and together, all levels of government, stakeholders, and community members can make a difference through collaborative efforts.
We thank the stakeholders, and our local leaders, and organizations that have brought us to this point.
Affordable and deeply affordable housing are critical to ensure that our community members are set up for success in all avenues of their lives, such as their employment, education, mental health, food security and more.
In addition to our collaborative work on this new report, United Way East Ontario also works with partners like the John Howard Society to create safe living spaces for homeless youth, to help them get their lives back on track.
Your dedication to the cause is shaping a brighter future for communities across the province. Let us embrace the recommendations outlined in the Provincial Affordable Housing Report and work together to unlock a more equitable and accessible housing landscape for all. Read the full report here.
Ontario United Ways And Centraides That Convened Local Engagement:
- United Way Bruce Grey
- United Way/Centraide of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry
- United Way Centraide North East Ontario
- United Way Centraide of Windsor-Essex County
- United Way Chatham-Kent
- United Way of Durham Region
- United Way East Ontario
- United Way Elgin Middlesex
- United Way Greater Toronto
- United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin
- United Way Halton & Hamilton
- United Way Hastings & Prince Edward
- United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington
- United Way Oxford
- United Way Perth Huron
- United Way Peterborough & District
- United Way Simcoe Muskoka
- United Way Thunder Bay
- United Way Waterloo Region Communities
The partners acknowledge that collaboration in developing this report took place on traditional Indigenous territories across the province. We recognize that there are 46 treaties and other agreements that cover the territory now called Ontario. We are thankful to be able to work and live in these territories. We are thankful to the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people who have cared for these territories since time immemorial and who continue to contribute to the strength of Ontario and to all communities across the province. Recognizing the distinct housing needs of Indigenous Peoples across Ontario, we support a By-Indigenous-For-Indigenous Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous housing strategy developed and implemented in partnership with Indigenous leaders, diverse Indigenous communities, Indigenous housing providers and service providers, and all levels of government.