Housing and homeless advocates across Ontario have begun counting down the final days of fall, eagerly awaiting the promised release of Ontario’s first long-term affordable housing strategy. “We are holding the Minister of Housing to his promise that low-income Ontarians can expect a plan before the cold days of winter, after the government missed their own spring deadline.” says Yutaka Dirks, co-chair of the Housing Network of Ontario.
“When government puts resources toward ensuring that people of all income levels have housing they can afford, everyone benefits – through job creation and healthier, more stable communities. We can’t wait much longer as people continue to the feel the effects of the recession. Investment in affordable housing through a coordinated strategy is crucial to strengthening Ontario’s economy and reducing poverty.”
The Wellesley Institute is one of the founding partners in the Housing Network of Ontario.
The government of Ontario committed to releasing a long-term affordable housing strategy in 2007, and held consultations in 2009. The Housing Network of Ontario summarized the key areas for action put forward by policy experts and people with lived experience of poverty and in April 2010 released Building the Foundation for Ontario’s Future: 5 Tests for success of Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy.
“Ontarians expect to see a strategy that will introduce positive changes in social housing legislation and provide for diverse, mixed-income communities through the use of inclusionary housing policies,” continues Mr. Dirks. “This province needs a strategy that makes a commitment to build new affordable housing annually and introduces a housing benefit program to address unaffordable rents.”
Since 2007 when the housing strategy was first promised, the waitlist for affordable housing in Ontario has grown by over 18,000 households to141,635 in 2010. Census data indicates that 1 in every 5 tenant households in Ontario pays over 50% of their income on rent, placing them in danger of becoming homeless.