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Posted by on Dec 2020 in Advocacy, All Stories, Features, Member Support, Sector leadership, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

2020: ONPHA’s year in review

Images clockwise: from upper left: A woman wearing a mask pushes a bicycle down a sidewalk; microscopic view of the coronavirus; Queen's Park legislature; Parliament Hill viewed from across the Rideau Canal; a worker wearing PPE uses a fogging machine to apply disinfectant; senior citizens participate in an online video chat.

There’s only so many ways you can say it: 2020 has been an unpredictable, challenging and transformative year. As Ontarians hunkered down for what is now a series of lockdown protocols, housing providers and support workers continued to serve their communities. 

ONPHA has been working hard to support its members with advice, learning opportunities, and resources and by advocating to all levels of government for increased supports and funding opportunities for housing providers. Read on to see some of our biggest wins from 2020. 

Supporting our members 

Responding to COVID-19 

A man works at a laptop while talking on the phone.

When the Province’s emergency orders came into place in March, one of the first things ONPHA did was to create an information hub to track government updates relevant to our members. Over time, our COVID-19 information hub expanded to include resources created by the ONPHA team and by ONPHA members, informational webinars, and answers to some of our most commonly-asked questions in our Member FAQ section. 

We also established regular best practices calls with small, medium, and large providers, a health and safety group, and sector partners to share challenges and solutions, and to ensure that ONPHA was offering the supports and advocacy needed by our members and the wider sector. 

New resources 

Our team worked hard to create resources to help housing providers operate during the pandemic. This year, we released: 

A woman wearing a medical mask

New online courses 

This year saw the launch of two new online courses: 

Close up of hands working at a laptop.

Webinars and workshops

This year, with the help of ONPHA members, sponsors, and housing experts from across Canada, we hosted webinars and virtual workshops on everything from the new RGI rules, investing basics and privacy concerns for housing providers, supporting vulnerable tenancies, and of course, operating safely during and lessons learned from COVID-19, among other topics. We look forward to offering more high-quality, timely, and necessary virtual professional development opportunities in 2021. 

ONPHA Conference 

Speakers appear on a screen within the virtual Conference platform.

This year we hosted our first-ever virtual Conference. Our panel discussions on the future of housing in a post-COVID world, leveraging disruption to institute organizational change, and the impact of financialization on the community housing sector addressed the big picture and inspired us to strengthen and modernize our sector.  

Our keynote speakers brought a wealth of humour, warmth, and personal experience to some of the biggest issues of 2020 including the urgent need for equality and racial justice and how to adapt and succeed when life hands you the unexpected.  

Purchasing solutions to meet the needs of members 

A ladder sits beside a freshly-painted green wall.

We responded to the needs of members and expanded the ONPHA Select purchasing program to bring on six new partners in 2020, offering exclusive deals to ONPHA members: 

  • Bargains Group: PPE, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and much more 
  • Peninsula: human resources and health and safety support 
  • Ryan: tax services and software 
  • UR Concierge: a web-based tenant engagement and service platform 
  • Vancity Community Investment Bank: a financial cooperative offering social purpose real estate, socially responsible investing, and more 
  • *NEW*  Neighbourhood Group: conflict resolution, de-escalation, and mediation services and training (more information coming in the new year) 

Policy and Advocacy 

Exterior view of the top of a modern apartment building set against the sky.

The pandemic’s impacts on the sector and ongoing ONPHA initiatives kept ONPHA’s policy and advocacy team busy in 2020. Here are some of the highlights of their work: 

ONPHA’s Rural and Urban Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario. Stemming from an unanimously-adopted resolution from ONPHA’s Urban Aboriginal Advisory Committee, the Plan highlights socioeconomic, legal and historical arguments to support six specific calls to action with clearly identified costs, savings and benefits.  

Participated in provincial and federal government engagement regarding responses for community housing supports during COVID-19 by responding to requests for information, and providing advice and feedback on draft materials and proposals. 

Presented to the standing committee at a virtual hearing regarding the new Bill 184: Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act. We advocated for ongoing sector engagements to develop regulations, sustainable funding models, equitable priority of assistance, and support along the housing continuum. Our presentation and written submission led to an invitation from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for further engagement. 

Engaged Robins Appleby LLP for a legal analysis of Bill 184Click here for an in-depth legal analysis of how the Bill impacts community housing providers. 

Authored Federal and Provincial pre-budget submissions to advocate for increased supports and funding to ensure that community housing is made an integral part of post-COVID economic recovery. 

Met with the Housing Sector Leadership Table which includes our partners from the Co-operative Housing Federation (CHF), Housing Services Corporation (HSC), the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN), the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO), the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA), Habitat for Humanity – Ontario Caucus, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). The table was initially brought together to respond to COVID-19-related priorities, and continues to meet to improve collaboration in advocacy efforts.  

Submission to the Landlord and Tenant Board’s (LTB) Proposed Revisions. A number of our recommendations were adopted in the revisions to the LTB rules, practice directions, and guidelines and the new Payment Agreement which is now available for use. We continue to meet with the LTB on related issues. 

Submission to the Province’s Engagement on Improving Supportive Housing. ONPHA highlighted the need for investment in an integrated, client-centred approach, prioritization of the supportive housing sector for development, true partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations based on principles of truth and reconciliation, and meaningful engagement with diverse communities with lived experience. 

See what else we got up to this year on our Policy and Advocacy page

We’re proud of what we accomplished this year for and with the help of our members, partners, and sponsors. We look forward to offering more resources, learning opportunities, supports, and services and to continuing to advocate for the sector in 2021. As we look to the future, ONPHA remains focused on our goal to ensure that every Ontarian has access to safe, affordable housing. 

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