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    Human Services Position Statement on Affordable Housing

    Last Updated: September 30, 2010

    HUMAN SERVICES COMMITMENT TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

    Human Services is committed to:
    • Being a leader in creating innovative social housing projects based on strong community support;
    • Participating in Federal and Provincial capital and construction programs for new affordable housing;
    • Advocating for the federal and provincial governments to provide unconditional funding to municipalities, allocated on the basis of a population based formula;
    • Reducing the number of applicants for social housing;
    • Forming alliances with the private sector to address affordable housing needs;
    • Ensuring a diverse housing supply that provides housing choice and affordability to residents with various economic and personal circumstances; and
    • Establishing a full range of safe, affordable, accessible and appropriate housing for Peel’s current and future residents.

    BACKGROUND

    • The years 1995 to 2001, in particular, were very lean years for social housing development across Ontario. Beginning in 1995, senior governments stopped funding new social housing programs. In 2001, Ontario shifted funding and administration of public and social housing to municipalities. From that time forward, compounded by insufficient financial resources and declining housing affordability, the Region of Peel saw its incidence of homeless families and individuals rise dramatically.
    • Currently, 20% of all households in Peel are beneath the affordable rental housing threshold and another 35% are beneath the affordable ownership threshold.
    • The Region of Peel acknowledges that to meet the affordable housing needs of future residents, approximately 20% of the units will need to be affordable to households beneath the rental threshold where market rental housing becomes affordable.
    • As of mid 2010, over 15,000 households were on Peel’s Centralized Wait List (CWL) for social housing. In 2007, out of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) twenty-four Quality of Life Reporting System (QOLRS) municipalities, Peel had the 3rd-longest wait list and was one of only four municipalities (the others being Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa) with a wait list of over 10,000. Peel also had the longest maximum wait time of all QOLRS municipalities (over 140 months). These twenty-four QOLRS municipalities account for 54% of Canada’s population.
    • Between 2001 and 2006, Peel was one of three municipalities (along with York and Durham), out of a total of twenty-four FCM QOLRS municipalities, to record an increase in core housing need.
    • In 2006, Peel had the second-lowest ratio of social housing units to length of wait list (1.23, as compared to the overall QOLRS municipal ratio of 2.2), indicating that demand for social housing far outweighs supply. Only York Region had a lower ratio than Peel.
    • Demand for social housing in Peel has been significantly affected by the following factors:
      • significant population growth,
      • the increasing costs of home ownership,
      • the shift away from higher paying, full-time permanent employment towards service sector and “non standard” employment (part-time, contract, temporary agency and self-employed) which offer fewer benefits and less pay,
      • high youth unemployment (which contribute to the downward shift in vacancy rates), and
      • insufficient financial resources to build adequate numbers of units, i.e., based on demographic trends to meet current and future housing demands.
    • The turnover rate in the existing social housing stock is small, thereby affecting the rate at which Centralized Wait List households are placed.
    • Peel’s social housing stock is also aging. The bulk of the stock was constructed prior to 1995, while some buildings were constructed 35 years ago. As the buildings age, they enter a costly replacement phase of life.
    • 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 used this funding for various affordable housing projects.
    • In fall 2009, the Region of Peel rent supplement program was created with an initial $0.4 million investment. This program will help to address the Region’s increasing waitlist for social housing.

    Summary of Key Housing Issues:

    • Affordable Housing Supply
      • The supply of affordable rental housing does not meet current and future needs.
      • The supply of some forms of affordable accommodation such as rental and rooming housing is shrinking. This generates fewer choices for residents at the lower end of the income spectrum.
    • Affordable Ownership Housing for Low and Moderate Income Households
      • There is a lack of ownership housing affordable to low and moderate income households.
      • Since 2001, resale prices in Peel have been steadily rising, thereby making it more difficult for lower and moderate income households to move along the housing continuum into ownership housing.
    • Lengthy Centralized Wait List (CWL)
      • The Region is experiencing a high demand for affordable housing.
      • Long wait times for subsidized housing and the general lack of adequate rental subsidies can further exacerbate housing problems experienced by individuals and families. People on the wait list may have no other alternative than to live in over-crowded, illegal and/or unsafe housing.
      • The legislated requirement under the Social Housing Reform Act 2000 (SHRA) that places Victims of Family Violence (VOFV) applicants at the top of the CWL has created unintended consequences. The CWL is now skewed to the point where 53 percent of all those housed from the CWL are VOFVs. This makes the wait much longer for new family and single applicants on the chronological waiting list.
    • Inadequate Revenues
      • Revenue collected from municipal property taxes is not enough to finance the cost of new affordable housing and maintain existing housing stock.
      • Ongoing commitments from senior levels of government are needed.
      • Flexibility for capital and operational funds based on local need and priority is required.
    Strategic Housing Programs and Initiatives

    The Human Services department has initiated steps to off-set the effects of housing 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
    Contributions from the program for new housing initiatives were to be matched by the province and municipality. The new Federal Affordable Housing Program has provided the Region of Peel with the necessary resources to construct many new units. Thus far, units have been allocated over the following projects and 375 additional units are under consideration at other sites in Peel Region.
    • 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
    • 250 units in the Creditview/Eglinton residence in Mississauga
    • 175 units at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #609 in Brampton
    • 98 units at the St. Tekla Coptic Church site in Brampton

    The new Housing Allowance Program allowed the Region to provide subsidies for a total of 300 units.

    Council’s additional new projects that were funded in part through the Federal Affordable Housing Program and/or National Homelessness Initiative include:

    • 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. 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. It was 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 now home to 163 households, including seniors and single individuals.

    For more information, please visit, www.peelbuilds.ca

    Home in Peel - Affordable Ownership Program
    The Home in Peel program provides a down payment to low-to-moderate income residents who are currently renting a unit so they can buy a home in Peel Region. Homeownership is an important final step in the housing continuum, as people move from paying market rent to owning their own home. This, in turn, frees up rental units for others in need of affordable housing.

    The demand for this program has been outstanding. Since the program was launched in May 2008:

    • Over 1100 applications have been received;
    • 119 families and singles have become first-time homeowners and 32 of these purchasers previously lived in social housing, which will now free up market rent units for others in Peel; and
    • 338 are currently on the program waiting list.

    Rent Supplements
    Rent Supplements are one approach to helping people with housing affordability issues. Rent supplement tenants/members are selected from the Region’s Centralized Wait List which is administered by Peel Access to Housing (PATH). Tenants/members pay their portion of the rent, which is rent-geared-to-income (RGI), directly to the landlord and the Region of Peel funds the difference between the market rent for the unit and the subsidized rent.

    Currently, there are just over 2400 rent supplement units in the Region. Both provincial and federal funds continue to flow to Peel for the administration of the various rent supplement programs which have a variety of cost sharing arrangements, involving different target client groups.

    Homelessness Strategy
    In 2005 the Homelessness Inter-Departmental Working Group (HIDWG) implemented a cross-departmental Homelessness Service Strategy Business Plan (SSBP) to organize the Region’s Homelessness Initiatives. The plan creates a comprehensive system of services along the continuum of care which will align initiatives that were previously scattered or siloed. The Region’s Homelessness SSBP aims to enhance individual, family, and community capacity in dealing with homelessness.

    Achievements of the HIDWG include:

      • implementing transitional housing for families and youth;
      • rejuvenating shelter facilities; and
      • receiving the National Quality Institute Award for Homelessness Delivery- Mobile Technology.

    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. The Region of Peel will continue to explore these partnerships in the coming years.

    Regional Position and Priorities

    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.

    • Regional Council supports a full continuum of housing, in all forms and at all prices, as essential for economic and social sustainability. In the Spring 2010, Council approved the Region of Peel’s Housing Strategy. It provides a comprehensive review of the current housing continuum and recommends strategies to meet the housing needs of the Region of Peel’s current and future residents, in the context of the recent changes that have taken place Peel Region. Outlined in the Strategy are the following four housing goals for Peel:
      • Adequate and Diverse Housing Supply;
      • Affordable Housing Supply;
      • Housing Access and Housing Options for Diverse and Special Needs Groups; and
      • Sustainable Compact Complete Communities.
    • Regional Council recognizes that entry-level home ownership is an important part of the market and that many people are held back by struggles with down payment obligations.
    • Regional Council recognizes the value of assistance for first home buyers and supports the decision of the Federal and Provincial governments to help this segment of the market, while being prepared to delegate program administration to Municipal Service Managers for more effective program delivery.
    • Regional Council has therefore endorsed administrative participation in the Affordable Home Ownership Program (AHOP) and appreciates the involvement of the local real estate boards in program research, public education and program delivery.

    KEY MESSAGES

    Peel believes that investing in affordable housing…

    • Benefits families; stable and affordable housing provides a secure base for families to flourish. Adults are able to live and work in the same community, allowing for stronger personal economic well-being as well as at the same time, contributing to the overall economic growth of the community.
    • Is essential to addressing the disturbing rise of homelessness in the Region. Investment helps reduce the strain on the shelter system, which can be very costly to build, maintain and operate.
    • Allows municipalities to allocate funds to permanent affordable housing rather than having to divert those funds to more costly interventions that partly result from affordable housing shortages, such as health care and policing.
    • Is necessary in order to meet the affordability needs of current and future Peel households.
    • Will help decrease the length of Peel’s Centralize Wait List.

    Funding is necessary…..

    The Region of Peel strongly believes that sustainable funding from senior levels of government is necessary to protect our investment into the future. The Region’s overstressed property tax base does not have the capacity to create new affordable housing or sustain its existing social housing stock. Cost sharing between the federal and provincial governments, with the federal government playing a key investment role in municipal infrastructure and economic competiveness and recognizing the exclusive provincial contribution to housing affordability, is imperative.

    The Region does acknowledge the federal government’s five year (2009-2014) $5 billion commitment in support of social housing initiatives, most of which is part of the infrastructure stimulus package which ends in March 2011. However, funding alone will not address Canada’s housing affordability and homelessness problems. A national housing strategy is needed.

    The Region of Peel has been supportive of a national housing strategy since 2000. The Region of Peel, along with the current provincial government, Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the social Housing sector as a whole, remains committed to the vision of a national housing strategy that leads to new, permanently affordable housing.





    Revised: Wednesday February 04 2015

    www.peelregion.ca

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