There is a growing demand for affordable housing across Canada. Affordable housing in Canada that is subsidized is supported by a mixture of provincial and federal funding sources. This week’s infographic, published by the ONPHA (Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association), looks at the need for increased federal investment in affordable housing in Ontario.
Affordable housing has many social and economic benefits. It can prevent homelessness, and is far more cost-efficient than having individuals occupy hospital beds, long-term care beds, and beds at correctional facilities.
The infographic states that planned federal spending on affordable housing in Ontario will see cuts in the coming years as “operating agreements” expire. In less than 25 years, affordable housing funding from the federal government is set to drop to zero dollars. Beyond the immediate future, it is unclear how the gap created by declining federal social housing for Ontario will be filled.
The drop in federal funding is not because of any trends that suggest that the need for affordable housing in Ontario is dwindling. According to the infographic, 168,000 households in Ontario are presently waiting for housing help. Waiting lists for affordable housing in Ontario continue to grow and the last decade has seen over 40,000 households added to affordable housing waiting lists. Waiting lists for housing that is rent-geared-to-income has grown yearly since 2006.
The support of the federal government is crucial if Ontario is expected to be successful in tackling its affordable housing crisis. Federal-provincial partnerships are a large reason why Ontario has been able to construct over 17,000 housing units, repair existing housing units, and provide rental and down payment assistance to over 81,000 families in need.
Ontario is not the only province that needs strong federal support in efforts to end homelessness. Recently, Brian Clifford, who works as a policy analyst with the BCNPHA (British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association), published a post on the Hub about what the 2015 BC Provincial Budget means for housing. In his post, Brian notes that the federal government has distanced itself from responsibility for housing policy over time. That said, they have made funding agreements to help bridge housing gaps with provinces, but unfortunately whatever funding that is in place has not been enough to keep up with the growing demand for affordable housing. As provincial funding for housing is projected to stay the same in BC, federal funding is projected to drop further. The expected drops in federal funding in both BC and Ontario will result in increased pressure on provincial governments to maintain existing funding levels.
Long-term plans to end homelessness, in the absence of adequate funding, cannot be employed. However, it is important to remember that funding plans that have been made by the Canadian federal government are not set in stone. Public support and advocacy for affordable housing can provide the necessary political will to make changes to current plans the federal government has for withdrawing funding for affordable housing programs.