Making the Case for Community Housing: 2019 Pre-Budget Submission
ONPHA recently submitted and presented our 2019 Ontario pre-budget recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Our Board Secretary, Kelly Black of the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board, represented us before the Committee in Timmins, Ontario, on January 22.
Never before has the issue of affordable housing been more front and centre. And never before has there been a stronger need to find housing solutions that are efficient, effective and long lasting.
As a community housing sector, we own close to $30 billion in assets. The work of ONPHA members reaches across the province, providing safe, affordable and stable housing for close to half a million Ontarians.
All of this puts ONPHA in an ideal position to help drive housing solutions.
We know the current Ontario government has committed to create new jobs, put more money in the pockets of Ontarians, restore trust in the government, and reduce hospital wait times. ONPHA is ready to help the Province achieve these goals. We are a strong and natural partner because our members contribute every day to a strong and healthy Ontario.
Strategic investment in the community housing sector is a smart investment. Our submission to the Committee was an important opportunity for us to continue to drive home this truth.
From creating new jobs, to putting money into the hands of small-business owners, to saving provincial dollars in programs such as social assistance, to improving overall health outcomes in the province, affordable housing is the foundation for a strong Ontario.
With this in mind, we presented five key recommendations to government for the next provincial budget.
We asked government to:
1) Confirm its commitment to the Canada-Ontario bilateral agreement under the National Housing Strategy and consult with ONPHA and our members.
Significant federal dollars are on the table for housing over the next decade. Cost-sharing this investment will provide opportunities to increase and regenerate our current housing supply, deliver benefits to low-income households and keep funding for vital programs that could otherwise shut down.
2) Prioritize development in the community housing sector.
Historically, housing programs have favoured private developers who can quickly provide “shovel-ready” projects. But this does not always translate into lasting investment. Affordable housing projects have typically capped rents for 20 years. After that time is up, rents in these buildings sky-rocket. By investing in our sector today, housing can remain affordable for generations to come.
We also recommend making surplus lands accessible to community housing providers and support getting projects off the ground as quickly as possible.
3) Reinvest housing dollars back into affordable housing.
Ontario generates significant revenues through housing-related taxes, such as the Land Transfer Tax and the Non-Resident Speculation Tax. Rather than adding these dollars to the government’s general revenues, re-invest housing dollars to solve housing problems.
4) Commit to an Ontario Indigenous Housing Strategy
True reconciliation can’t happen while Indigenous peoples, more than any other group in the province, are experiencing poverty, lack of acceptable housing and homelessness, or when Indigenous housing providers are struggling to keep their doors open.
Indigenous housing leaders have already been working closely with government on solutions. They are the experts. We recommend that the government continue to work with them to co-design solutions and ensure appropriate, easy-to-access funding.
5) Create 30,000 new supportive housing units as part of the forthcoming mental health and addictions strategy
We applaud the government’s historic $3.8 billion commitment to mental health and addictions. Now we’re asking them to allocate a significant portion of this investment to creating new supportive housing. The call to add at least 30,000 supportive housing units over the next decade has been endorsed by many leading mental health organizations.
We know that maintaining and increasing housing affordability is not the job of the government alone. All levels of government, the community housing sector and our partners, as well as communities across the province, all have a shared social responsibility to ensure Ontarians have a safe and affordable place to call home.
ONPHA will continue to bring to the table the concerns and priorities of our 730+ members, and we look forward to working alongside government and our partners to ensure a bright housing future for Ontario.
Questions? Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.