Bringing affordable housing home

Action plan for housing stability in Ontario outlines achievable
ways to solve housing crisis

Governments, and the private and non-profit sectors, must together forge new ways to house all Ontarians, says a United Way action plan that emphasizes the importance of partnerships in building affordable and deeply affordable housing.

The blueprint released this week notes that community housing sector is “a critical part” of the equation and “an indispensable partner” for governments looking to solve the local and provincial housing crisis.

Entitled Bringing Affordable Housing Home: An Action Plan for Housing Stability in Ontario, the report offers up seven recommendations to solve the local and provincial crisis in housing. Following each recommendation are concrete steps – a blueprint for achieving each recommendation – that can significantly contribute to our collective progress in growing housing security in Ontario, including in partnership with the non-profit sector.

Local experts were among 400 non-profit leaders who contributed to the report, shared this week by all United Ways in Ontario to municipal, provincial and federal governments.

“These recommendations align with the long-term goals of London’s Whole of Community Response to Homelessness, specifically the pillar of affordable housing,” said Kelly Ziegner, president and CEO OF United Way Elgin Middlesex.

“We are proud to say that several of our community partners and members of the Health and Homeless Initiative contributed their experience and expertise to the creation of this action plan.

“Implementing this action plan will help achieve the desired outcomes of the Whole of Community Response and bring stability to our region’s affordable housing sector,” Ziegner said.

Having a safe, affordable and accessible home is foundational to building a stable life and a healthy community, the report notes.

Even so, nearly two in five renting households in Ontario pay unaffordable rents. Not only does that place hundreds of thousands of Ontarians into hardship, it increases pressure on all community programs and services.

From 1990 to 2021, only eight per cent of housing starts were rentals, and just 0.4% were non-market-rate housing.

“The need and our shared obligation are clear. We must find a way to house Ontarians – all Ontarians,” the report says.

“Non-profit housing and co-operative housing providers are eager to deliver affordable and deeply affordable housing for lower income households, in perpetuity. They are ready to provide the supports and services needed to increase the well-being of communities facing myriad social and economic challenges,” the blueprint continues.

The seven recommendations:

  • Land and Assets. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments make surplus lands and assets available to non-profit and co-operative housing providers to grow deeply affordable and supportive housing options across Ontario.
  • Investment. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments increase investment in and improve greater access to financing for the development of affordable and deeply affordable homes across Ontario.
  • Incentives. The provincial government, in partnership with municipal governments, provides development incentives that prioritize non-profit housing organizations and establishes flexible programs that maximize the community housing sector’s capacity to compete in the housing market effectively.
  • Preservation. The provincial government, in partnership with federal and municipal governments, provides consistent and predictable long-term funding to preserve existing deeply affordable housing and supportive housing options offered by the community housing sector.
  • Supports and protections. All levels of government supply housing stabilization and eviction prevention supports and strengthen tenant protections to help renters access and maintain affordable and secure homes
  • Indigenous housing. The federal and provincial governments address and prioritize persistent housing and homelessness challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples through a dedicated strategy, programs and supports developed and implemented in partnership with Indigenous leaders, diverse Indigenous communities, housing providers, and all levels of government.
  • Collaboration and partnership. The federal and provincial governments coordinate housing strategies, plans and programs with municipal governments while promoting cross-sector collaboration and resource sharing.

Download the action plan for housing stability in Ontario.