Ontario Recognizes National Housing Day

eAwaz Local News

Province reaffirms commitment to housing supports and homelessness prevention TORONTO — Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, made the following statement in the Legislature on National Housing Day: “Mr. Speaker, I rise in the legislature today to mark National Housing Day. I am pleased to be standing here on behalf of our government, to acknowledge and thank our housing and homelessness partners across Ontario for their commitment and collaboration and reaffirm how our government is delivering on our commitment to make it easier for hardworking Ontarians to find a home that’s right for them. In 2019, I was proud to introduce More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan to address the province’s housing crisis. Mr. Speaker, our action plan puts Ontarians first. Our plan is focused on making housing more affordable by encouraging development of all kinds of homes, so that every Ontarian can find the home that meets their unique needs and their budget. This includes streamlining processes and accelerating approvals timelines for official plans, zoning bylaws, and plans of subdivision so that we can drive progress hand-in-hand with our municipal partners. And we’re encouraging innovative approaches to building different types of housing and supporting affordable ownership and rentals. For example, we’ve made it easier for homeowners to build a second residential unit on their property which can be turned into new rental units, by exempting second units from development charges. We also allowed development charges to be deferred or paid over several years to enable more rental and affordable housing projects. Development charges for rental housing, for example, can be paid over a five-year period from occupancy, instead of up front. And for non-profit housing, development charges can be paid over twenty years from first occupancy. Our policies are delivering real results, despite the pandemic. In 2020, the year after our More Homes, More Choice was implemented, Ontario had over 81,000 housing starts – the highest level of housing starts in the last decade. And in 2020, we had nearly 11,000 rental starts – the highest record since 1992. Mr. Speaker, this is not just about the number of homes or rental units that our government is helping to create. This is the about the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who can now find a home because of our policies. Our government is working hard to get shovels in the ground to create the jobs and increase the housing supply our province needs. We are using every resource at our disposal to put affordable home ownership within reach for more Ontarians. That includes Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs. In partnership with local governments, MZOs are an important part of our government’s policy toolkit to help critical local projects move at the pace Ontarians need and deserve. Using MZOs, we have helped the construction of over 500 supportive housing units. Mr. Speaker, on November 10th, I was in Kingston to announce that I had issued an MZO to accelerate the creation of up to 25 Tiny Homes for veterans in what will be Ontario’s very first Veterans’ Village. Mr. Speaker, this Veterans’ Village is an excellent example of our government’s housing policies in action. Our government is helping to turn underutilized provincially owned properties into affordable housing using innovative solutions like pre-fabricated modular housing, under Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. I also made an MZO to accelerate the zoning process to allow for residential units on this land so that our military heroes can access these homes as quickly as possible. Without the MZO, it could have taken years for the site to be rezoned through a zoning bylaw amendment leaving these veterans in a continued state of home insecurity and homelessness. I’m proud of the collaborative relationship we built with our partners, the Homes For Heroes Foundation and the City of Kingston, throughout this process. Mr. Speaker, our government is supporting the needs of Ontarians across the housing continuum. That includes community and supportive housing. Through our Community Housing Renewal Strategy and Ontario’s response to COVID-19, we are providing more than $3 billion in this fiscal year and last year. This includes over $1 billion in flexible supports through the Social Services Relief Fund to municipal and Indigenous partners. These funds help them meet critical pandemic-related needs and drive new supportive housing units for a diverse range of vulnerable people. I’m proud to say this is one of the biggest investments by the province in affordable housing in Ontario’s history. In addition to our Community Housing Renewal Strategy, we continue to work with our municipal and sector partners on how we can improve Ontario’s community and supportive housing system. This includes identifying opportunities to streamline and improve co-ordination so that people can more easily access the help they need. After holding successful engagement sessions with our community and supportive housing stakeholders from across Ontario, we are currently working with our ministry partners to explore opportunities to: improve local planning across sectors… better connect people to the right housing and support services from the start of their journey, and… better integrate programs to improve efficiency. I look forward to sharing more details in the near future. Creating a system where people have greater choice, and more opportunities to find the home that is right for them requires decisive action at all levels of government. That is why I continue to call on the federal government to pay their fair share of funding under the National Housing Strategy. Mr. Speaker, Ontario is projected to receive $490 million less over the term of the National Housing Strategy when you factor in Ontario’s share of households in Core Housing Need. Addressing this funding imbalance is vital to addressing the needs of some of our most vulnerable Ontarians. Mr. Speaker, since day one, our government has and continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our municipal partners, to help them utilize the resources and tools we’ve provided to address housing needs in their communities. This includes tools to address homelessness, such as By-Name Lists. By-Name Lists are a tested approach that drives better coordination of services for our most vulnerable Ontarians. They help service providers identify their homeless populations and understand their challenges – to not just see them as numbers. We’ve already heard from some Service Managers who have implemented their By-name Lists that the difference is “night and day.” I’m very pleased to say that we are on track to have a by-name list of people experiencing homelessness in every community across the province by the end of this year. My Ministry continues to work with all Service Managers to help them implement this evidence-based system, which will help us tackle homelessness in every corner of the province. Mr. Speaker, we’re not done yet. As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, our government is building on the progress our housing policies have already made by establishing a Housing Affordability Task Force. The Task Force will provide recommendations on further opportunities to make housing more affordable for Ontarians and their families. This includes exploring how else we can get shovels in the ground faster and remove duplication and barriers to home ownership. In closing, Mr. Speaker, on National Housing Day, I want to sincerely thank our municipal partners, local service managers, housing providers and Indigenous program administrators across Ontario. They are on the frontlines supporting some of our most vulnerable. Especially during the pandemic, their commitment and compassion has truly demonstrated the Ontario Spirit. Our government will continue to use every resource at our disposal and work with all our partners to ensure that every Ontarian can find the home that meets their unique needs and their budget. Our government stands committed to ensuring that Ontario continues to be the very best place to live, work, and prosper.”