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Changing its housing landscape...
Peel is building new social housing!

The Region of Peel is building new social housing to address its growing incidence of homelessness. Increasing numbers of families and individuals in Peel are paying more than half of their income on housing, making the need for more permanent affordable rental housing a priority in Peel.  

Peel’s New Social Housing Developments

Peel Regional Council regards adequate affordable housing and support services as the cornerstones to combating homelessness. Since 1979, Council has built up a substantial social housing portfolio, and in recent years, a comprehensive infrastructure of supports, including partnerships with community agencies and senior governments, to assist in stabilizing thousands of households in need.

However, the challenges in making this happen began to take on daunting proportions in the mid-1990s. A rapidly rising population, insufficient community resources to provide adequate social supports, and the withdrawal of funds for social housing by senior governments in 1995 were key contributors to a dramatic increase in the need for emergency shelters and subsidized housing in Peel. In response, and in the absence of senior government help, Peel began to build new social housing in 2001.

In 2002, the Federal Government introduced a new affordable housing program. Contributions from the program for new housing initiatives were to be matched by the province and municipality.

Peel was allocated $10.3 million from the program and quickly put the funds to good use. Summerville Pines, the Region’s newest seniors’ affordable housing building, opened in March 2005. Millbrook Place was built with Peel’s own resources. Council’s additional new projects are being funded in part through the Federal Affordable Housing Program and/or the National Homelessness Initiative:

  • Chapelview is one of the largest affordable mixed-income housing projects built in Ontario in the last 10 years. The 16-storey building will be located in downtown Brampton and will accommodate seniors and singles in a total of 200 units.
    The project is funded by an unprecedented partnership between the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Brampton, the Region of Peel and Martinway Contracting Ltd.
    Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2006 with occupancy slated for fall 2009.

  • Peel’s Walker Road affordable housing development will be a 25-unit apartment building for seniors in Caledon East. A common hallway will link the building with an existing seniors’ housing facility. An elevator in the new building will be accessible by residents of both buildings.

  • Peel Youth Village, opened in July 2005, is an exciting housing concept that provides motivated young adults with affordable housing along with social supports and programs to help them get their lives back together. The brain-child of the Peel Youth Network and Peel Regional staff, Peel Youth Village was funded and built by the Region of Peel with contributions from the Federal and Provincial Community Affordable Housing Program and the National Homelessness Initiative. Recreational and educational programs are available at the facility which boasts a half-court gym, community meeting rooms and a future job skills training centre for both residents and the neighbouring community.

  • Angela’s Place, opened in June 2005, is another innovative housing development created by the Family Housing Working Group of Peel offering affordable housing and support programs for families trying to get back on their feet.

  • Summerville Pines opened in March 2005. The 136-unit apartment building is situated in the heart of Mississauga and designed for seniors’ living.

  • Millbrook Place opened in December 2003, Peel’s first new social housing development and one of the first of its kind in Ontario since 1995. Millbrook Place , built primarily with Peel social housing reserves, is a new home to 163 households, including seniors and single individuals.

See Peel’s new housing developments.

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Why Peel Needs to Build More Social Housing

The years 1995 to 2001 were very lean years for social housing development across Ontario. Beginning in 1995, senior governments stopped funding new social housing programs. From that time forward, the Region of Peel saw its incidence of homeless families and individuals rise dramatically.

Notwithstanding the absence of senior government involvement, Peel remained committed to addressing its serious affordable housing shortage and established a reserve fund that enabled it to build its first new affordable housing initiative since 1995, opening Millbrook Place, a 163-unit seniors and singles building, in December 2003.

Peel welcomed the 2001 announcements from both senior governments about a renewed commitment to build more social housing, successfully using its allocations to help build four additional housing initiatives. However, the intervening policies that put a halt to social housing development between 1995 and 2001 created formidable challenges for Peel:

  • The nine emergency homeless shelters in Peel are generally filled to capacity almost every night. Peel’s growing homelessness comes as a result of job loss, family break-up or illness in households.
  • In 2004, almost 10,300 admissions, including almost 2,300 children, were made to homeless and emergency shelters across Peel.
  • About 22 per cent of single adults in Peel shelters are employed in some capacity.
  • Peel’s waiting list for social housing has grown to about 13,500 households in 2005 from 5,000 households in 1995. Wait times have climbed from 3-5 years to an average of eight years in the same time period. Some families are currently waiting up to 12 years for an available unit depending on the number of bedrooms required.
  • About half of social housing applicants surveyed in 2003 were paying 50% or more of their income on housing; a rent level equivalent to 30% or less of household income is considered to be ‘affordable’.
  • Between 1996 and 2001, Peel lost six per cent of its rental housing stock primarily due to condominium conversions.
  • Peel’s population of just over one million people continues to grow at a rate of 30,000 new residents each year – a rate expected to continue for at least another ten years.
  • In the mid-1990s, the Province of Ontario drastically reduced social assistance payments.
  • Peel Region receives less funding per capita, or per person, than any other municipality in the Greater Toronto Area for social support services.
  • By 2031, the number of older adults, 55 plus, will nearly triple to make up almost 30% (443,000 older adults) of Peel’s total projected population of 1.5 million people. Recognizing that their housing needs will change as they age, almost 45% of older adult residents surveyed said they plan to move in the next 10 years or more and that they wish to find housing in Peel. However, affordable housing choices suitable for older adults are currently limited.
  • CMHC estimates that Peel’s affordable housing needs total up to 1,900 rental units per year every year until 2021.

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Peel Region as Social Housing Service Manager

With the Social Housing Reform Act of 2000, Peel Regional Council became the Service Manager for social housing in Peel. As Service Manager, Peel co-ordinates a centralized waiting list for applicants requiring subsidized social housing, and the Rent Supplement Program for 49 housing providers in Peel.

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Peel Living – Peel Region’s non-profit housing company

Peel Region is one of 49 social housing providers in Peel. Council’s non-profit housing company, Peel Living, has been building modest-income housing since 1979. Its current portfolio totals over 7,100 apartments and townhouses on 69 sites across the Cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon. Peel Living is the largest landlord in Peel and one of the largest in the Greater Toronto Area.

Peel Living’s hallmark is its approach to building stronger communities through mixing tenancies with varying income levels, as well as a commitment to providing well-maintained living environments in each of its 69 apartment and townhouse sites.

The Region’s efforts to stabilize communities in this way has been proven time and again by Peel Living residents, many of whom have moved from subsidized to market rent units and others to home ownership. Peel Living receives strong support from the broader communities and has garnered awards in urban design.

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Affordable Housing Key to Better Communities

Peel Regional Council believes that adequate affordable housing contributes much more significantly to community stability and economic health than a broadening system of shelters. Shelters provide critical relief to those experiencing housing and personal crises but contribute little to stabilizing those citizens.

Council’s investment in ‘affordable’ rental housing has been shown time and again to reap larger community benefits. Over the years, the stability experienced by many of Peel’s social housing residents has enabled them to make the move from subsidized housing to market rent units. As well, many of Peel’s social housing residents have moved into homeownership.

The increasing need for emergency shelters and the growing waiting list for social housing since the mid-90s were clear indicators to Council that it could not afford to wait for senior government relief to help build new social housing. As a result, Council began building on its own. Millbrook Place, which opened in December 2003, was funded primarily through Peel’s social housing reserves.

Although limited available dollars restricts Council’s ability to commit to higher levels of much-needed affordable housing growth, each additional social housing unit is considered to be a win as it means one more family or individual is on their way to a better life.

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A Good Investment for the Community

Peel believes that investing in affordable housing…

  • increases safety: limited affordable housing results in families and individuals living in overcrowded or unsafe housing;
  • allows municipalities to allocate funds to permanent affordable housing rather than having to divert those funds to issues related to affordable housing shortages such as health care and policing;
  • means balanced home/work life and enhanced quality of life; being able to afford housing in relative proximity to work means more time at home, less time and cost spent on travelling;
  • benefits the economy; with people being able to live where they work, they spend their after-rent dollars locally;
  • benefits business; more available affordable housing generates a bigger pool of potential workers;
  • benefits local transit; with greater numbers of users, transit becomes more efficient, and, as a result, congestion and stresses on our road infrastructures decrease;
  • benefits families; households experience greater stability when they can afford their housing and not have the daily worry of wondering where they will live tomorrow; child mental and emotional development has been shown to suffer when exposed to the trauma of living in homeless shelters and unstable living environments.

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Senior Governments are Key Partners to Build More Affordable Housing

  • Peel’s local tax base cannot support the level of new affordable housing development needed.
  • Capital dollars are required to be able to create rents at levels that are affordable.
  • Additional rent supplements are required to extend housing affordability to more low-income households; the rise in vacancy rates between 2001 and 2005 that came largely as a result of a movement from rental housing to home-ownership spurred on by record-low mortgage rates generally affected only higher rent levels. Low-income households were still left with little choice in affordable housing options.
  • In April 2005, a new federal and provincial agreement was signed to provide over $600 million in federal and matching provincial dollars over four years to help create new affordable housing. Peel hopes to get at least five hundred units from this funding stream.
  • The June 2005 federal budget includes an additional $1.6 billion in new affordable housing dollars with funds being allocated to municipalities over two years.

Revised: Friday January 31 2014


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