Leading through change: ONPHA’s 2019-2020 Annual Report
To say that this has been a year of ups and downs would be an understatement. We launched the Centre for Housing Excellence, and brought on two new Directors near the beginning of the last fiscal year and it’s a good thing we did.
Just a couple of months into 2020, we’d find ourselves in completely uncharted territory: facing a global pandemic. Our team was able to transition to remote work immediately, and the new Centre for Housing Excellence quickly launched an information and resources page to help members navigate the new reality of operating during a pandemic.
Since then, we’ve been collaborating with our members to collect and share policies and best practices for operating during COVID-19. We’ve put on webinars and surveyed our members to discover the biggest issues they’re facing. We’ve worked with sector partners to advocate to all levels of government for PPE, funding and supports for housing providers, and to position community housing as an essential piece of Ontario’s economic recovery.
We’ve summed up our past year of work in our 2019-2020 Annual Report. Read on to see some of the highlights.
Working for you as your full-service professional association
Building a Centre for Housing Excellence
ONPHA’s Centre for Housing Excellence was conceived as a way to help professionalize the sector, reduce risks to providers, and ensure the sector’s long-term sustainability and growth in the face of increasingly complex issues. We officially launched the Centre at our annual Conference in Toronto in November, 2019.
The Centre brings a broad range of stakeholders from within the housing sector, the health, social services, economic development, and urban planning sectors, as well as the private sector, academia, and all levels of government to solve complex housing issues. Our goals are to expand the sector’s footprint in Ontario’s housing market. We will continue to build the Centre and expand its influence.
This year, our Member Support Helpline fielded inquiries about responding to and operating during COVID-19, the new RGI rules, navigating end of operating agreements and mortgages, along with many other complicated concerns.
The Centre for Housing Excellence team created new online courses such as The New, Simplified World of RGI and offered numerous webinars and resources focused on helping our members navigate challenges related to COVID-19.
Promoting a people-centered integrated housing system
We’re working towards a more equitable system that works for the people it exists to serve, where everyone has more choice to decide what’s best for them.
Promoting equality and inclusivity
We’ve renewed our commitment to inclusivity and equality as it pertains to the housing sector. This summer, in the wake of increased attention on the realities of anti-black racism, we released a statement about our commitment to fight against inequality.
We launched our Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario this year, the first of its kind in the province. Work on the report began in fall 2018 following a unanimous resolution put forth by ONPHA’s Urban Aboriginal Housing Advisory Committee to call on provincial and federal governments to implement urban and rural Indigenous housing strategies. The report highlights the socioeconomic, legal and historical arguments that support our six specific calls to action to support the expansion and sustainability of off-reserve Indigenous-focused housing in Ontario.
In 2019, we awarded 10 students with the Kathleen Blinkhorn Aboriginal Student Scholarship. This scholarship awards Indigenous students with funding to put towards tuition, books, technology and other related expenses.
Supporting a sustainable future
We’re supporting members to be financially stable now and into the future by ensuring they have access to opportunities, including new development, redevelopment and repurposing.
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted much of our focus to supporting our members to navigate the crisis. We’ve supported our members throughout the pandemic by:
- hosting regular ONPHA Exchange calls to bring groups of small, medium, and large providers
- launching a hub of new, free resources for our members
- forming a new Health and Safety Community of Practice committee to share best practices in response to COVID-19.
- working with members to retain their ONPHA membership in cases of financial hardship
- launching ONPHA Select, our new, improved purchasing program
Ensuring cohesive sector leadership
As a strong leader in the housing sector, we’re bringing together stakeholders to create system solutions to complex issues.
Over the past year, we’ve been actively engaged with government and sector and community partners on the issues impacting members the most, including:
- Bill 184
- Supportive housing
- Sector sustainability
- Sector leadership
- Indigenous housing
- The National Housing Strategy
These are just some of the highlights of what we’ve accomplished over the past year, and we couldn’t do it without our members. Your role in the future of ONPHA and the sector is critical and we’re looking forward to building that future together.