Will Hurt Poor in the Long Run
TORONTO, March 28, 2012 /CNW/ - Predictably, the 2012 Ontario Budget, released yesterday, contains no new money for affordable housing.
"ONPHA did not expect additional funding, given last year's federal-provincial commitment of $486 Million over four years through the Investment in Affordable Housing program," said Sharad Kerur, Executive Director of ONPHA. "However, the government's statement in its economic outlook that housing in Ontario remains affordable - based on home owners, paying historically low interest rates - simply does not hold true for low income households, and certainly not for the over 152,000 households on wait lists for affordable housing across the province."
ONPHA is quite concerned about the budget's impact on the tenants our members house, as well as the households waiting for affordable housing. The government's decision to freeze social assistance and delay increases in the Ontario Child Benefit will make life more difficult for families and individuals across the province.
As well, the decision to move the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) outside social assistance and cut funds by 50 per cent puts people living on social assistance at greater risk of remaining or becoming homelessness.
"Because our tenants have been homeless, the start up grant is used regularly when they first move in to pay their first month's rent, and to buy basic items such as sheets and towels, a lamp or a chair to sit in. It is also used to buy a new bed if the old one needs to be replaced because of bedbugs." said Angie Hains, Executive Director of Ecuhome and a former President of ONPHA.
This decision spreads less funding across more people, leaving municipalities to deal with the consequences.
ONPHA is also disappointed that the government chose to end the Dr. Albert Rose Bursary for post-secondary students in social housing. This program provided an important source of recognition and encouragement for people in social housing who sought to improve their situation by pursuing higher education. The decision to end it runs counter to the goal of improving outcomes for people.
The 3,000 kWh/month cap on the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) for Large Users will have a significant impact non-profit housing providers who pay for utility costs for their tenants. These providers counted on the 10 per cent OCEB discount to keep electricity costs manageable. The loss of the benefit will increase costs and make it more difficult for providers to operate their housing sustainably.
ONPHA is concerned that cuts to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing may prevent the Ministry from fulfilling its responsibility as steward of the housing and homelessness service system across the province. As the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy and Housing Services Act, 2011, are implemented, MMAH must be able to support local Service Managers during the transition, and oversee the housing and homelessness system at a provincial level, to ensure that services are available on an equitable basis across Ontario.
While ONPHA recognizes the need for fiscal restraint and rationalization of services, regrettably, by limiting poverty reduction and affordable housing measures, the Province is reducing support to Ontario's poorest families and individuals while missing a key opportunity to achieve greater health care savings. As the Drummond Report recognized, study after study has shown that environmental factors such as income, education and housing are foundational to health and well-being.
"A stronger focus on the factors that underpin good health for all citizens - including adequate incomes and affordable housing - is critical to the Province's goal of managing health care costs in Ontario," said Sylvia Patterson, President of ONPHA.
The Ontario Non‐Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) represents 760 non‐profit housing providers in 220 communities across Ontario. ONPHA members operate more than 160,000 non‐profit housing units and provide housing for approximately 400,000 people such as seniors, low‐income families with children, Aboriginal people, the working poor, victims of violence and abuse, people living with developmental disabilities, mental illness, HIV/AIDS or addictions and the formerly homeless/hard‐to‐house.
Further information about ONPHA and non-profit housing can be found at:
For further information:
Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association
Tel: 416-927-9144 ext. 102
Email: [email protected]