Everybody deserves to have a place to call home. The Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) was a benefit that helped people receiving social assistance to pay for large or unexpected housing-related costs, supporting them to become and remain housed.
In its 2013 budget, the province eliminated CSUMB and allocated 50 percent of its funding to municipalities to provide housing and homelessness prevention supports. The remaining 50 percent of CSUMB funds were slated to be cut. Just before it took effect, the province allocated an additional $42 million in transitional funding to assist municipalities in the first year of operating their programs. While this was welcome, it still left funding for this crucial service $25 million below the CSUMB level. The municipally-delivered programs are available to all low income people, not just those receiving social assistance.
The Wellesley Institute, in partnership with income security, housing, and health experts, completed a health equity impact assessment of the health impacts of cutting CSUMB. We found that eliminating CSUMB would have disproportionate negative health impacts for people living with disabilities, women, children, and people with chronic and episodic health conditions.
Since CSUMB was eliminated, municipalities have developed a range of programs to address the urgent housing needs of low income people in their areas. Many municipalities limited program eligibility because they were concerned about the need for the program exceeding the money made available by the province. Consequently, people who would have been eligible for CSUMB have not been able to access supports through their municipality.
For municipalities to do the job that the province has asked them to do, they need certainty in their funding. The experiences from 2013 indicate that municipalities cannot afford to have the transitional funding expire, as scheduled for March 2014. Municipalities are preparing their 2014 budgets now – and, now is the time for the province to act.
27 organizations from across Ontario, including the Wellesley Institute, are calling for the province to make the $42 million in transitional funding permanent. This will not replace CSUMB, but it will at least give municipalities certainty in setting their 2014 budgets and planning longer-term programs.
You can view the letter here.