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Posted by on Mar 2022 in Advocacy, All Stories, Sector leadership, Slider | 0 comments

ONPHA’s initial analysis: New community housing regulatory framework 

Overview

On March 30, Ontario released the long-awaited regulatory changes under the Housing Services Act, 2011 (HSA) related to service and exit agreements and service levels, access, and income and asset limits. These regulations provide the foundation for the future of the community housing system in Ontario, while setting the stage for future sector engagement to support their implementation. 

Overall, ONPHA is pleased with the new framework, which incorporates many of our recommendations and sets the stage to ensure the long-term sustainability of the community housing sector. The new system shifts away from the current outdated, prescribed benchmark approach that presented significant challenges for the sector. Instead, it introduces a simplified, customizable approach, while providing important guardrails to protect and grow capacity across the province.  

ONPHA will share our in-depth analysis of the regulations in the coming days. We will also be offering new services to support the sector during this significant transition period, including upcoming negotiations.  

In the meantime, here are our initial key takeaways: 

Service agreements

Housing providers reaching the end of their mortgage and/or operating agreement can enter into a new service agreement with their service manager. The details of these agreements will be subject to negotiation between each housing provider and service manager, but must include: 

  • A minimum term of 10 years 
  • The number/target/range of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units (and other assistance as applicable) in the housing project 
  • Funding provided by the service manager to the housing provider to make up the difference between RGI rates and rental rates otherwise payable for each unit 
  • Additional funding to reduce non-RGI rental rates and maintain stock in a state of good repair 
  • A financial plan co-developed by the housing provider and service manager, including projected capital expenditures and rental rates for non-RGI units, to be reviewed at least every 5 years  
  • A dispute resolution process  

Exit agreements

Housing providers may exit the HSA framework once their mortgage and/or operating agreement expires. Exit agreements will also be subject to negotiation, but must include: 

  • Ongoing accommodation and delivery of RGI (or other assistance) to households on assistance 
  • Either: 
    • Ongoing operation of the project by the existing or another housing provider 
    • Redevelopment of the project by the existing or another housing provider 
    • Reinvestment of the sale of the project into affordable housing 

Don’t do it all alone! ONPHA is here to support you every step of the way.

ONPHA is keenly aware that housing providers will require significant, ongoing support to prepare for the end of mortgages and/or operating agreements. We’re here to help you determine the best approach for your long-term sustainability and set you up for success in the future negotiation environment.  

If you’re feeling at all uncertain, contact us first! Don’t negotiate alone. ONPHA has the right experts and toolkits to bring you through a successful housing provider/service manager negotiation. Raise your hand now if you’re looking for support, and we’ll connect with you. 

We understand that transitions are challenging. That’s why we’re launching a robust support service for members to ensure that when the new agreements come into effect, you’ll be ready. More to come. 

Service levels

New provisions slightly expand the types of housing assistance that can count toward service levels, but they remain linked to service manager-funded, income-tested benefits, including RGI assistance and portable housing benefits. 

Access 

New provisions broaden the types of housing assistance that are accessible through the access system to include any form of service manager-funded assistance that reduces or supports rent payments (not including Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payments), in addition to RGI. 

Service managers must publicize information about their access systems, including: 

  • A description of each type of available assistance 
  • How to apply for each type of available assistance 
  • Eligibility and priority rules for each type of available assistance 

Income and asset limits 

Service managers must make local eligibility rules for income and asset limits for households to access RGI assistance and make reasonable efforts to notify households of these rules. Both sets of rules allow for flexibility for different unit types, sizes, and locations, as well as service manager discretion for extenuating circumstances. 

Income limit provisions include: 

  • The limit applies to the net income of all household members, excluding full-time students 
  • The maximum income limit must be at least the household limit set out under O. Reg. 370/11 
  • Income limits are only applicable to households on or applying for the waitlist; they are not applicable to determine ongoing RGI eligibility for sitting tenants 

Asset limit provisions include: 

  • The limit applies to the total value of assets of all household members  
  • The maximum asset value must be at least $50,000 
  • Among other things, asset limits cannot include the value of funds in: 
    • Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) 
    • Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) 
    • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) 
    • Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) 
  • Asset limits are not applicable to waitlist applicants or sitting RGI tenants who are receiving OW basic financial assistance or ODSP income support 

Income and asset limit rules must come into effect no later than July 1, 2023. 

Look out for our in-depth analysis, coming soon. We’ll also be sharing more about the new services and supports to guide ONPHA members through this transition. Stay tuned! 

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