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    Peel Housing Programs & Initiatives

    Peel Region's New Modest-Income Housing Developments

    Social Housing Development in the Region of Peel

    Since the 1970’s non-profit and co-operative housing corporations have been building social housing throughout Canada. In 1979 the Region of Peel began building modest-income housing through its own non-profit housing corporation Peel Living. The Region is now the largest non-profit housing provider in Peel and the second largest in the Greater Toronto Area. In Peel today there are 15,225 units of social housing, consisting of Peel Living units, those of the private community sector co-ops and non-profits, and units under rent supplement agreements.

    In 1993 the federal government ended its social housing development funding, and in Ontario the province followed suit in 1995. Peel was one of the first municipalities to take up the challenge to fill this void and began developing affordable housing using its own resources. As the senior levels of government gradually returned to development funding over recent years, Peel’s development apparatus was ready to put their new programs and funds to work.

    The Region’s New Developments

    Since 2002, Council has to varying degrees approved construction of eight new housing projects totaling 657 units. Together, these projects represent one of the largest non-profit housing initiatives in Ontario since the senior governments stopped funding social housing development. The earliest buildings were primarily built with Peel’s social housing reserve funds and Regionally-owned land, while in recent years federal and provincial development monies have become available. They include:

    • Millbrook Place – 163 units in Mississauga for seniors and singles - Completed 2003;
    • Summerville Pines – a 136-unit seniors’ building in Mississauga; - Completed 2005;
    • Peel Manor – Proposed 30 supportive housing units;
    • Angela’s Place – an innovative 20-unit housing initiative in Mississauga for families in transition - Completed 2005;
    • Peel Youth Village – a 48-bed project with support services for youth and the community in Mississauga - Completed 2006;
    • John Street – 200 units in downtown Brampton for seniors and singles;
    • Walker Road – a 25 unit expansion to the existing seniors’ building at 20 Walker Road East, Caledon.

    In August 2006, Regional Council approved the Affordable Housing Program Delivery Plan which outlined the approach that the department plans to take in the upcoming years. All projects are expected to be completed by 2010. Peel believes that adequate affordable housing is essential to building healthy, stable communities and to address the rise of homelessness in the Region. The Region’s efforts to advance households by providing affordable housing has been proven time and again with the movement of many of its social housing residents from subsidized to market rent units, and others into home ownership.

    Regional Council is building to meet the community’s housing needs using all available resources. The new funding programs from the senior levels of government are helping Peel build a sustainable affordable housing system. However, Peel requires long-term financial and policy commitments from its senior government partners to properly address the need for affordable housing and shelter in the Region. For more on affordable housing development in Peel, see the information sheets on the individual properties, the information sheet entitled “Why Peel Needs New Affordable Housing” and the Peel Builds website at: or www.peelbuids.ca.

    Why Peel Needs New Affordable Housing

    Peel’s Housing Needs: Affordability Problems and Homelessness

    Affordability : The commonly accepted measure of housing affordability is whether a household is paying 30% or less of its income on housing costs. In 2004 nearly 40% of all tenants in Brampton and Mississauga were paying over 30% of their income in rent. Those paying more than 50% are considered to have severe affordability problems, and this was the case for about half of the households on Peel’s social housing waiting list in 2001.

    According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) the average market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Peel is $893 (with a two-bedroom at $1023). Comparatively, a retail sales worker's average income is $16,750. With affordable monthly rent levels of 30% of income, a retail sales worker can afford rent of $420 a month ─ less than half the going rental rate in Peel. The affordability problem is especially compounded for the many single-earner households that need a larger unit to accommodate children. CMHC has estimated that Peel’s affordable housing needs require the development of up to 1,900 new rental units per year every year until 2021. Over the last decade the private sector has generated little new development that is affordable to those with lower incomes. Only Peel’s recent social housing developments truly address the need for housing at the lower end of the market.

    Although vacancy rates have increased quite dramatically in Peel (from 0.9% in 2001 to 4.10% in 2005) and the Region currently has relatively stable average rents, much of Peel’s rental housing stock is simply not affordable to low and moderate-income households. For many households struggling to pay market rents this means there is often not enough income left for adequate food or clothing. These households are living paycheque to paycheque and are effectively living on the verge of outright homelessness.

    The length of Peel’s social housing waiting list reflects the demand for affordable housing and is another indicator of local affordability problems. In October 2006, there were 12,135 households eligible and waiting for social housing in Peel; 6,872 families; 2,090 seniors; and 3,173 singles. Due to the lack of available units, those applying today are not likely to be offered a unit before 2020 depending on the number of bedrooms required.

    Other indicators of housing affordability problems in Peel are: families and individuals “doubling-up” or sharing often over-crowded units; accommodation in unhealthy, substandard, and non-code-compliant units (e.g. rooming houses, basement apartments); and household instability or transience (frequent moves), all of which were found during the 2001 survey of households on Peel’s social housing waiting list. The Peel food bank Foodpath is serving many more people now than ever before. They see a direct link between the high cost of housing and the lack of money for food.

    Homelessness: In 2005, almost 10,911 admissions, including almost 2,205 children, were made to homeless and emergency shelters across Peel. The increase of families and children in shelters is particularly disturbing. Homelessness and the threat of homelessness can be especially traumatic and detrimental to children, impacting their emotional development, social behaviour, and academic success. Lengths of stay in shelters have increased as affordable housing has become harder to find.

    In just a 5 year period, the number of applicants seeking help through Peel’s Homelessness Prevention Program, an eviction prevention program that keeps people housed and out of shelters by providing help with rent, rose from 100 to 1,300 residents. Peel’s Homelessness Outreach Program regularly has a caseload of around two hundred individuals, many of whom are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless but do not use shelters.

    Reasons for Peel’s growing homelessness problem include: poverty (inadequate income due to low wages, job loss, underemployment, a lack of unskilled work, and low social assistance rates); a lack of affordable housing; family violence and break-up (spousal abuse, parent/child conflict or abuse); weak or lacking familial, friendship, or community support networks; illness including mental health and addiction problems; eviction and the recent release from correctional facilities.

    Peel's Housing Stock, Affordability Problems, and Homelessness

    The federal government ended its social housing development funding in 1993 and the province of Ontario followed suit in 1995. Since then incidences of homelessness, the number of households at risk of becoming homeless, and the length of the social housing waiting list have all increased steadily in Peel and remain at alarming levels.

    In stark contrast to the Region’s booming ownership housing development industry, only 578 private sector rental units were built in Peel between 1997 and 2002. Between 1989 and 1996, prior to the termination of the senior government social housing programs, over 7,000 non-profit housing units were built in Peel. Only 367 were built between 1997 and 2006. Compounding this inadequate level of rental development is the fact that between 1991 and 2001 Peel lost 3,275 units from its total rental stock, primarily through the conversion of rental units to condominiums. This represents an overall decline in rental housing stock of 6 %.

    Significant population growth and demographic shifts are also putting pressures on the affordable end of Peel’s housing supply. In total, 25,000 more people are projected to move to Peel every year until 2011, and Peel’s population of older adults (those over 55) is growing. Both a portion of the new residents and many of these older adults will require affordable housing. It bears repeating that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has estimated that Peel’s affordable housing needs total up to 1,900 rental units per year every year until 2021.

    Peel's Social Housing Development Rationale and Strategy

    Peel’s investment in affordable rental housing through its non-profit housing corporation Peel Living has been shown time and again to reap broad community benefits. Over the years, the benefits of Peel Living’s secure and affordable housing stock have enabled residents to make the move from subsidized housing to market rent units. In turn, many market renters in Peel’s buildings have moved into homeownership.

    Adequate affordable housing is the cornerstone to combating homelessness and poverty in the community. A healthy supply of affordable housing contributes much more significantly to community stability and economic health than a system of emergency shelters. Although shelters provide the basic accommodation needed by those experiencing housing and other crises ─ and Peel has greatly expanded the support services available to shelter users ─ the instability of the shelter environment is simply not as conducive to the advancement of residents as stable housing.

    Further, the cost of early intervention to stabilize those vulnerable to homelessness by providing greater housing security is far less than paying to shelter a household once they have lost their home. The average annual support costs for a chronically homeless individual are between $60,000 and $150,000, while the cost to assist someone who is vulnerable but housed is between $3,500 and $12,000. Investing in affordable housing also allows Peel to get better value from funds which are currently spent on the symptoms of the affordable housing shortage. For example, many medical or criminal problems that are dealt with through costly health care and policing services could be remedied with secure housing.

    Like education and basic physical infrastructure, a healthy spectrum of housing options benefits local business and Peel’s economic well-being and competitiveness. The availability of affordable housing is becoming an important factor in the location decisions of employees and business. It generates a bigger labour pool, providing housing for the lower-income workforce that provides essential services and works in industries like hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, and retail. Ironically, housing affordability in Peel has suffered partly as a result of the region’s robust economy, as housing prices have risen with people’s desire to live here and the ability to pay of our more affluent citizens. Diverse, inclusive communities with a spectrum of housing options also benefit the economy in that more people are able to live where they work, and then spend their incomes locally.

    Council established the Peel Regional Task Force on Homelessness in 1999 to respond to the need for a comprehensive solution to homelessness in Peel. The Task Force made recommendations for both immediate and long-term strategies and identified shortages and gaps in the range of resources and services that were then available to address homelessness in the region. The Task Force put forward a comprehensive Continuum of Care model of supports and services. The continuum suggests an interlocking network of services, running from prevention initiatives, to the outreach program, to emergency shelters and housing (transitional and long-term).

    Peel has begun to fill the gap between shelters and stable housing by developing transitional housing. Two of Peel’s new developments, Peel Youth Village and Angela’s Place, are for youth and families leaving homelessness and shelter use. Residents will get various types of assistance from social services before moving on into more permanent housing. These facilities represent an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness ─ they will help residents stabilize their lives and re-integrate with Peel’s broader community.

    The softening of the rental market in terms of Peel’s sizable vacancy rates and stable average rents, also suggests that the Region would be able to make good use of rent supplements – but the available private sector units still fall far short of meeting existing needs and the senior government rent supplement programs do not have the funding to fill the available units. As the Region has always advocated, while the housing program balance shifts back and forth to reflect changes in demand and supply, only a balanced approach can address the diversity of need.

    New Housing Programs – Senior Government Funding

    Background

    In 1993 the federal government ended its social housing development funding, and in Ontario the province followed suit in 1995. Peel was one of the first municipalities to take up the challenge to fill this void and began developing affordable housing using its own resources. As the senior levels of government gradually returned to development funding over recent years, Peel’s development apparatus was ready to put their new programs and funds to work.

    New Programs

    Canada Ontario Affordable Housing Agreement – The Federal and Provincial governments signed the Affordable Housing Agreement on April 29, 2005. This agreement represents a commitment of $602 million to be provided for the development of new affordable housing in Ontario. Under this agreement, the Province of Ontario has been given the responsibility of developing the guidelines for the new Affordable Housing Program (AHP). Under the current agreement, the Region is eligible to take part in 3 of 4 components. The Region has been allocated 465 units or $32.55 million under the Affordable Rental and Supportive Housing component of the AHP. The Housing Allowance/Rent Supplement component has resulted in the creation of 270 rent supplement units. The Home Ownership component will allow for current tenants with moderate incomes a real chance to make the next step into owning their own home and to entering the final stage of the housing continuum. These components under the agreement will allow for the creation of much needed affordable housing in Peel.

    Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) – As part of the National Homelessness Initiative (NHI) launched in 1999, SCPI has funded a great variety of projects that address homelessness across Canada. Many innovative projects, both capital facilities and support programs, have been funded through SCPI. In Peel SCPI funds have been used in the development of Peel Youth Village, Angela’s Place and the expansion of St. Leonard’s House. They have also been used for Peel’s Eviction Prevention Program and the supports programming at Peel Youth Village.

    Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program – The Province of Ontario re-designed this rent supplement program in March 2004. This program was formerly known as the Rent Supplement Homelessness Initiative (1999) and the New Tomorrow Rent Supplement Program (2003). The program provides increased flexibility to municipal administrators to allocate rent supplement units in a variety of ways. These include: in new buildings developed under the Canada – Ontario Affordable Housing Program; other new construction; in existing non-profit and co-operative buildings; and for eligible applicants being consideration for an in-situ arrangements where an agreement is made with a landlord who has an existing eligible tenant from the PATH waitlist, in this way the resident is not either evicted or forced to move to receive the supplement. Rent supplements have been used in Peel’s new developments to bring the rents to affordable levels for low-income residents. Some rent supplements involve a supportive services component for tenants with special needs.

    Housing Allowance Program – As part of the Affordable Housing Program, the Housing Allowance Program will allocate $80 million to regions to subsidize 5,000 rental units across the province of Ontario, including 500 units dedicated specifically to victims of domestic violence.  Housing Allowances will be available from the Region of Peel from 2006 through 2013.  The Region of Peel will enter into housing allowance agreements with landlords for a maximum term of 5 years.  Through these housing allowances, the program provides landlords with the opportunity to offer vacant units to households in need of rental assistance.


    Revised: Wednesday April 18 2012

    www.peelregion.ca

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