At Habitat HMD, we have a vision where everyone has a decent place to call home. We understand that making this a reality is contingent on the participation of key government players. Our homes are built on the foundation of these partnerships. We collaborate closely with the Ontario government, and their recent Community Housing Renewal Strategy works to expand affordable housing within the province while streamlining its accessibility.
What is it?
Community housing is owned and operated by not-for-profits, housing co-operatives and municipal governments or district social services administration boards. These providers offer subsidized or affordable payments for the accommodation. Community housing is often referred to as affordable housing.
The Community Housing Renewal Strategy outlines how the provincial government will work with the aforementioned housing providers to stabilize and expand affordable housing within Ontario. It was released on April 17.
Why do we need it?
Affordable housing currently provides homes to over 250,000 families and individuals across the province. However, 56 per cent of renter households in Ontario still cannot afford the average cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment (which is $1,266).
As rent prices skyrocket, undue pressure is put specifically on low-income households who may have to decide between putting food on the table and paying rent. The affordable housing crisis is continuing to escalate, and the government is listening.
Current issues in affordable housing
The main issue in affordable housing is supply vs. demand. As prices of real estate continue to rise, the need for affordable housing is more dire than ever before. But there aren’t enough affordable housing options to meet these needs.
Additionally, many of these houses are in poor condition, requiring intensive repairs.
The system of affordable housing is complex, riddled with red tape, both in the process of building affordable housing and in accessing the accommodation.
This strategy endeavours to address these issues, head-on, to expand and improve affordable housing within our province.
Our partners in government
Habitat HMD collaborates will all levels of government to help make our work possible.
The municipal government is the lead player in planning, coordinating and delivering affordable housing services. Municipalities are the biggest financial contributors to community housing, with support from the provincial and federal governments.
The province primarily funds homelessness services and supportive housing programs (subsidized housing combined with support services).
The federal government has committed to housing with its National Housing Strategy (from which the Ontario government can leverage funding).
Key priorities of the strategy
Working in partnership with housing providers
The provincial government has identified the importance of working closely with those executing the construction of affordable housing (like Habitat HMD). They recognize that building a better system of affordable housing will take time and collaboration.
Habitat HMD is looking forward to working in partnership with the Ontario government to maximize our impact in building affordable housing.
Repair and increase the supply of affordable housing
Ultimately, this strategy hopes to expand affordable housing within the province, to help all people in Ontario find a home that meets their lifestyle needs and financial constraints.
The strategy aims to increase efficiency in the construction process, to better support providers of affordable housing like Habitat HMD.
It also works to provide improved support to individuals seeking affordable accommodation. By streamlining the process, it strives to make affordable housing more accessible to those who need it most.
What will this look like in concrete steps?
As previously mentioned, affordable housing is currently an issue due to the lack of supply and massive demand. This means that waitlists are constantly growing faster than the individuals at the top of the list are able to find accommodation.
Toronto’s subsidized housing waitlist has more than 100,000 households waiting for accommodation.
This plan introduces changes to shorten waitlists by filling vacant units faster. This will be done by requiring individuals on the list to prioritize their choice and accept the first accommodation they’re offered.
Helping providers become more sustainable
The provincial government will work to help affordable housing providers operate in a business-like manner. This will allow providers to maximize their capacity to build the kind of housing residents of Ontario need. Their aim is to help these providers become more sustainable long-term.
While Habitat HMD is a not-for-profit organization, we do like to think of ourselves as business-savvy. Our social enterprises like the ReStore, the ReVive Centre and our Handyman program allow us to cover our costs of administration.
This enables our organization to remain sustainable, while we use donations to fuel our mission of building affordable housing within our local community. We’re looking forward to collaborating with our partners in government to continue maximizing our impact.
Habitat homes are built on the foundation of partnerships
As a key provider for affordable housing across the province, Habitat understands that our work is made possible because of steps like this from the government. Plans like the Community Housing Renewal Strategy pave the way for providers to construct housing that meets the needs of Ontarians.
We’re confident that with our partners in government activating on our behalf, our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to call home is more attainable.
To see how Habitat HMD is currently expanding affordable housing within our community, check out our current build projects.
To help fuel our mission, get involved with Habitat HMD today.
Read the full Community Housing Renewal Strategy here.
By: Olivia Kabelin
Updated: July 2, 2021