Peel Housing Programs & Initiatives
Social Housing Emerging Trends
Over the past few years the Region of Peel, as a social housing Service Manager, has identified several key trends that have a significant impact on the way social housing in Peel is managed and administered. The trends can be grouped into three main areas:
Increased Demand for Affordable Housing in Peel
Currently the waiting list for social housing sits at 12,135 households including families, seniors, and victims of family violence. The wait for a subsidized unit in Peel could exceed 21 years. On average, only 7% of households on the waiting list will be placed in a subsidized unit each year.
In addition, there has been a significant increase in the number of households in crisis situations. Because these cases take priority, it has gotten to the point where the only household being place in subsidized units are the ones in crisis. Working poor families and single people have very little hope in being placed in a reasonable time-frame.
Peel has taken steps to alleviate the pressure of the demand for social housing by investing in new buildings and programs. The end result of new initiatives however is reduced somewhat by private market competition, reluctance of private landlords to participate in rent supplement programs, and the need to maintain our current housing stock.
Aging Housing Stock
The bulk of Peel’s social housing stock was constructed prior to 1995. Some buildings were constructed 35 years ago. As the buildings age they enter a costly replacement phase of life. Housing providers are required to contribute to a capital reserve fund, however, the annual reserve contribution levels set by past federal/provincial rules are not realistic. As a result, non-profit projects require an additional $600 - $700 per unit capital maintenance reserve contribution to avoid a negative balance. Because of this there will be an increasing reliance on the Region of Peel to provide additional operating and capital grants to off-set this expense. While Peel has been proactive in this regard by contributing to a contingency capital reserve fund, at current levels this fund will be depleted by 2012. This is complicated by inconsistent housing provider management practices, frequent regulatory changes, the need for ‘green’ initiatives and energy efficiency, and increasing pressure to improve building accessibility.
Senior Levels of Government Involvement
Since the devolution of social housing to municipalities in 2001 the costs associated with building and administering social housing in Peel have been shouldered by the property tax base. In order to address the social housing issues faced by municipalities in Ontario, it is imperative that the Provincial and Federal governments commit to long-term, sustainable funding for new buildings and programs. Over the past few years senior levels of government have made some investments into social housing, however the commitment to the long-term funding required for a comprehensive housing strategy has remained elusive.
The Human Services department has initiated steps to off-set the effects of these challenging trends and issues. The department’s strategy includes participation in new programs, review and development of internal processes, commitment to reducing homelessness in Peel, advocacy for increased senior level of government funding, and partnerships with other municipalities, service managers, community agencies, citizens, and private sector organizations.
Specifically, the department’s strategy includes the following:
New Affordable Housing Program
The new federal Affordable Housing Program has provided the Region of Peel with the needed resources to build 465 new units. So far units have been allocated over 3 projects:
- 200 units in the John Street apartments in Brampton
- 25 units in the Walker Road residence in Caledon
- 30 Units in the Manorgate residence in Brampton
The new Housing Allowance Program allows the Region to provide subsidies for a total of 300 units.
In order to maximize the funds, Peel is partnering with a builder to reduce capital costs and extend building life and is pursuing other funding partners to offset capital costs.
Social Housing Asset Management Strategy
The goal of the Asset Management Strategy is to develop processes that will help with the management of capital maintenance reserves, improve housing provider capacity for managing and maintaining capital asset and to mitigate the financial risk to the Region of Peel.
Another key component of this strategy is to advocate as a unified voice with other service managers for an increase in the level of involvement of senior levels of government.
In 2005 a Homelessness Service Strategy Business Plan (SSBP) was developed by a committee representing many Peel departments. This SSBP is included in the appendices of this package. It will be updated in 2008.
Enhanced Strategic Partnerships
All of these strategies would not be successful without partnering with internal or external stakeholders. Other municipalities, service managers, community agencies, citizens, and private sector partners have all contributed at some level to the planning and funding of services and to the advocacy for increased government involvement and funding commitments. We will continue to explore these avenues in the coming years.