Ontario government commits to ending chronic homelessness in 10 years
Yesterday, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) released A Place to Call Home, the final report from the Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness. Based on the report’s recommendations, the Province has committed to ending chronic homelessness within 10 years. The report’s definition of chronic homelessness refers to individuals who have spent six months or more in a shelter or a place not fit for human habitation.
The Province will focus on four groups that commonly experience homelessness: youth, Aboriginal peoples, people exiting provincially-funded institutions and services, and individuals who have been unsheltered for extensive periods of time. Local areas will also be required to gather information on the number of homeless people in their communities.
As announced in last year’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Province will continue the Local Poverty Reduction Fund. The Fund awards grants to community initiatives that combat poverty. This morning, the Province promised to target $10 million from the Fund to programs that are address homelessness.
ONPHA welcomes the report and the Province’s continued commitment to evidence-based policy decisions. Lack of data on homelessness in Ontario is a serious issue in our sector, and continued funding for local solutions is a positive step forward.
A key factor in homelessness, though, is a lack of affordable housing options. “Housing costs in Ontario are rising, and waiting lists for social housing are getting longer,” said Sharad Kerur, ONPHA’s Executive Director. “This report will help shape the Province’s response to homelessness, but homelessness will not be solved without significantly increasing the amount of affordable housing available.”
ONPHA President Meg McCallum agrees. “One in five renter households in Ontario spends more than 50 per cent of their income on housing costs,” she said. “Without stable, long-term funding for new affordable rental units, people will continue to be at risk of homelessness.”
With this in mind, ONPHA looks forward to the release of the updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy later this fall, which we hope will outline the Province’s strategy for increasing the supply of affordable housing in Ontario.