More Community Housing Could Be Coming to Mississauga
At a time when the call for more affordable housing in Mississauga and surrounding cities has reached a fever pitch, it looks like a little help from the province is on the way.
The government of Ontario recently announced that it will be providing over $1 billion in 2019-20, including more than $38 million for the Region of Peel, to "help sustain, repair, and grow community housing, and to help end homelessness."
The announcement likely comes as a relief to Peel and its municipalities, which include Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, as the lack of affordable housing in the region (and in the GTA in general) has hit a crisis point.
While poverty numbers have improved across Canada overall, Mississauga has witnessed an uptick in poverty and increased food bank usage.
According to a recent Vital Signs 2018 report, a publication released by the Community Foundation of Mississauga, 14.4 per cent of Mississauga residents are living on a low income.
That’s a 1.1 per cent increase since 2010.
The Face of Hunger in Mississauga, a 2018 report from the Mississauga Food Bank, recently revealed a 52 per cent increase in seniors accessing food bank services over the last two years.
"It's a plan to transform a fragmented and inefficient system into one that is more streamlined, sustainable and ready to help people who need it most. Our government believes Ontario families shouldn't have to live in buildings with crumbling walls, leaking roofs and broken elevators," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in a statement. "We will work with municipalities and non-profits to address issues like safety, overcrowding and long wait lists."
In 2019-20, the Region of Peel will receive:
$17,860,334 from the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative;
$9,910,600 from the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative;
$6,310,484 from the Investment in Affordable Housing in Ontario;
$2,666,347 from the Home for Good Program; and,
$1,465,636 from the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative.
"For years community housing systems across the province and in our community have been falling apart, leaving families living in homes with crumbling walls and leaky roofs," said Nina Tangri, MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville. "That's why our government is making a $1 billion dollar investment, alongside the launch of our Community Housing Renewal Strategy, to help sustain, repair and grow community housing."
Ontario's new Community Housing Renewal Strategy has proposed making some major changes for community housing tenants—including allowing housing providers to turn away tenants who have been evicted for criminal activity.
The province plans to implement the following changes:
Encouraging tenants to seek opportunities at school and work by removing existing penalties for working more hours or going to college or university;
Making rent more predictable by simplifying rent calculations;
Freeing up the wait-list by having tenants prioritize their first choice and accept the first unit they are offered, while allowing Service Managers flexibility to make exceptions in extenuating circumstances;
Protecting tenants who receive child support payments by ensuring their rent is not impacted by payments;
Making housing available to those who truly need it by requiring an asset test;
Making housing safer by empowering housing providers to turn away tenants who have been evicted for criminal activity.
“Many of my constituents live in subsidized housing. I have heard loud and clear their frustrations and concerns of safety on the rapid deterioration of their homes," said Kaleed Rasheed, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville. "This $1 billion investment in the repair and maintenance of social housing will bring back the dignity of the residents and finally address the safety hazards that persist in the projects.”
In 2014-18, Ontario contributed 57 per cent of housing and homelessness spending, while 17 per cent came from the federal government. The province says 26 per cent of funding came from municipalities.
Community housing is provided by non-profit, co-operative and municipal housing agencies. It includes a range of programs from subsidized social and affordable housing, including housing for Indigenous people, to rent supplements and portable housing benefits that help people find housing in the private market.