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2016 National Housing Strategy Roundtables Summary Report

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2016 National Housing Strategy Roundtables Summary Report

The federal government has committed to developing a National Housing Strategy with provinces and territories to address housing and homelessness issues in Canada. 

In 2015, the province held broad consultations to update Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy which was released in March, 2016.  It is important that Ontario continues to build on this work and ensure that the National Housing Strategy supports the vision and principles of Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy Update.  

In keeping with this goal, the Minister of Housing hosted a series of targeted roundtables across Ontario in 2016 with key stakeholder organizations, municipal governments, Indigenous partners, individual housing providers and people with lived experience to help inform Ontario’s position regarding the National Housing Strategy.  

This document outlines some of the common themes and ideas raised by the participants at these roundtables for Ontario to consider as it develops its position on the National Housing Strategy.

Collaboration and Alignment Across Orders of Government is Key

  • The National Housing Strategy should:
    • Recognize and respect the unique municipal role in the administration of housing and homelessness in Ontario.
    • Reflect the challenges associated with housing and homelessness in a province with such a varied geography (e.g. north, south, urban, rural) and diverse communities.
    • Support Ontario’s transformation and policy agendas and align with the strategic directions, principles and outcomes of Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. 
    • Balance and align housing supply/demand initiatives with supports for people.
    • Recognize that housing is linked to a series of other shared areas of responsibility including health, poverty, homelessness, justice and social services.
  • The federal government should clearly identify its priorities in housing and build on its historic role in the housing sector (social housing funding, research, data) while exploring ways to expand its focus to support new directions (e.g. taking a “whole of government” approach).
  • The federal government has an opportunity to lead and shape a national dialogue around housing and homelessness to help all Canadians understand the significance that affordable housing has in their own communities. 

Governments Need Flexibility to Address Housing Needs in their Communities

  • Municipal Service Managers need the flexibility to tailor programs and funding to reflect a variety of local needs that will vary amongst communities including:
    • capital, operating and/or support programs
    • homelessness prevention and 
    • addressing specific housing needs for local priority populations (e.g. youth, seniors, Indigenous, chronically homeless).
  • The provincial and federal governments should streamline program and funding rules and ensure efficiency in program design and administration amongst orders of government.  
    • This will support Service Managers in administering programs, building capacity and will support the development of new and innovative forms of housing assistance (e.g. partnering with local agencies). 

Long-Term Funding and New Financial Tools are Necessary 

  • The provincial and federal governments should work together to explore new models of funding and financing of affordable housing that will allow both the private and non-profit sectors to leverage existing assets along with new investments to facilitate the development of new housing stock.  
    • Ideas include the use of new funding arrangements (e.g. development bonds) and the creation of a government-backed institution (e.g. a Housing Sector Bank) that will enable the sector to leverage assets to create new stock and to maintain existing stock. 
  • The federal government should provide a strong and flexible funding framework for housing that includes long-term, predictable and sustainable funding focused on the creation of new housing supply and the sustainability of existing housing stock. This includes:
    • Addressing the impact of expiring federal operating agreements and the end of federal subsidies which will directly affect the rents housing providers will have to charge to tenants
    • Ensuring that the existing social housing stock is physically maintained over the long-term and
    • Enabling better planning, efficiency and innovation in creating new housing through stable, predictable funding streams. 
  • Governments should examine ways to incentivize the private and not-for-profit sectors to build new affordable housing in both large and small communities.  Examples include waiving development charges and reviewing taxation definitions and measures with the Canada Revenue Agency. 
  • There needs be a clear delineation between financing/funding of capital programs (e.g. bricks and mortar) and financing/funding for financial assistance and other support programs (e.g. mental health and addictions supports, housing benefits) that enable people who need supports to achieve housing stability.

Governments Should Increase Support for Indigenous Housing in Ontario

  • The federal government should support Ontario’s unique and successful partnerships with off-reserve Indigenous organizations through dedicated, increased assistance, supports and housing for Indigenous people, including federal legacy social housing programs.
  • The National Housing Strategy should include a dedicated section on Indigenous housing.
    • The federal government needs to continue to support Indigenous people as they move on and off reserves to obtain services that may not be available to them in their local communities (e.g. seek education, employment, fleeing violence, accessing health services).
  • The federal and provincial governments should work together to fund and support culturally-appropriate, Indigenous-led, person-centred housing and homelessness solutions for Indigenous peoples across Ontario, with a specific focus on the needs of Indigenous populations in northern Ontario.