Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy Update
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing | March 28, 2016
In support of Ontario’s updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, Ontario is taking the following initiatives.
Developing a Framework for Inclusionary Zoning
Ontario is proposing to introduce legislation that would, if passed, allow municipalities the choice of establishing inclusionary zoning policies. If a municipality chose to use this tool, new housing proposals would require a certain percentage of affordable units in order to be approved.
In the coming months, Ontario will consult with municipalities, developers, and other interested parties to request input that will help the province develop a framework for inclusionary zoning. They will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on other planning and financial tools that could facilitate the creation of affordable housing units.
A Stronger Supportive Housing System for Ontario
Supportive housing helps Ontarians with complex needs: seniors, people with physical and/or mental health issues, substance abuse issues, survivors of domestic violence, at-risk youth, and others.
Ontario is committing up to $100 million for housing allowances and support services to help up to 4,000 families and individuals in new supportive housing over the next three years. In the long term, capital funding will support the construction of up to 1,500 new supportive housing units. These investments will help the government make progress on its commitment to end homelessness.
Ontario will also develop a Supportive Housing Policy Framework to guide provincial and local program improvements. The framework will support co-ordination across sectors and ministries and engage key stakeholders. Ontario will also develop outcome-focused performance measures to better understand whether supportive housing programs are meeting people’s needs.
Developing a Framework for a Portable Housing Benefit
Ontario will develop a framework for a portable housing benefit. At present, eligible Ontarians may receive rent-geared-to-income assistance and pay rent equal to 30 per cent of their income. However, they often have to live in specific housing units to receive this assistance. A portable housing benefit is a subsidy that could be calculated based on income, but would be linked to people, instead of a specific housing unit, so people can choose where they want to live.
The government will hold consultations to discuss the best way to introduce a portable housing benefit framework. Over time, current forms of rental assistance would transition to this framework.
Portable Housing Benefit for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Ontario is investing more than $17 million over three years to pilot a portable housing benefit for survivors of domestic violence. It will eventually help up to 3,000 survivors. The pilot will grow from $2.5 million in 2016/17, to $10 million in 2018/19. This pilot aligns with Ontario’s Action Plan to End Sexual Violence and Harassment.
Currently, survivors of domestic violence have priority access to rent geared-to-income social housing. Under the pilot program, survivors will have the additional option of receiving a portable housing benefit so they can immediately find housing in the community of their choice.
The pilot program will initially start in three communities (to be determined).
Simplified Rent-Geared-to-Income Calculations
Ontario will hold consultations on how to make rent-geared-to-income calculations simpler and fairer.
Currently, a range of definitions for household income make the calculations complex and confusing for both tenants and housing providers. In addition, tenants living in a rent-geared-to-income unit must declare every time their income changes. This can lead to rent increases and creates disincentives to work, making it difficult for tenants to plan for the future.
Working with municipal Service Managers, housing providers and tenant groups, Ontario will harmonize the definition of income to make it more consistent with other income-tested programs, like the Ontario Child Benefit.
Modernizing Social Housing in Ontario
Ontario plans to work with partners to introduce policy, legislative, and regulatory changes to:
- Streamline and simplify rent-geared-to-income calculations and administration
- Support vibrant mixed-income communities and encourage a healthy mix of rent-geared-to-income and market rent tenants
- Recognize new and innovative forms of municipal housing assistance
- Increase local flexibility to manage housing assets and meet local needs
- Develop a voluntary accreditation system that encourages sector sustainability and high-quality tenant services.
The government will also work with stakeholders to improve co-ordination across systems (e.g., health, community services, children and youth) and improve referrals so that clients can find the right housing and supports.