More than half the new “affordable” housing funded by the Ontario government isn’t really affordable to the households that need it the most. That’s one of the devastating findings in the Ontario auditor-general’s latest annual report, released today. “A provincial strategy is needed to define the Ministry [of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s] roles, set measurable goals and program priorities, assess risks and options to manage the risks, determine the resources required, and measure the impact of the Ministry’s contribution to social housing,” urges the auditor-general – echoing the concerns and recommendations made by the Wellesley Institute, and many other partners in the Housing Network of Ontario to the Ontario government’s consultation for a long-term housing strategy.
One section of the AG’s annual report focuses on social housing, and it confirms that the average income of households on the waiting list in 2008 was $15,000, while the average income required to afford new homes funded by the Ontario government is almost double that amount – $29,000. In addition to criticising the government for designing an affordable housing program with rents that are much higher than those that can be paid by low and moderate income households, the auditor-general also raises a number of other concerns that have also been voiced by housing experts and advocates. Among those concerns:
- the province’s 2005 housing allowance program is so poorly designed that only $57 million of the $80 million has actually been allocated (even though there is a pressing need across the province).
- although the province has agreed to cost-share with the federal govenrment a total of $1.2 billion in new affordable housing investments over the next two years, the Ontario government doesn’t have “established and dedicated staff resources… monitoring the success of its funding programs in achieving their desired impact.”
- the provincial government has withheld $330 million of federal housing funds (including $198 million for what it calls “provincial constraint”) and is not able to demonstrate that this money has actually been spent on housing, as it was supposed to.
- while the provincial and federal government have both made substantial investments in the past two years in social housing repairs, the auditor-general reports that the province lacks “good asset-management practices”.
- more than 137,000 households are on social housing waiting lists, but there is little co-ordination among the three provincial ministries that administer more than 20 housing and related programs; and that wait times range up to 21 years.