August 2020
Backgrounder
Municipal Implications

The housing and homelessness crisis in Ontario was serious and widespread before COVID-19. The emergency situation brought on by the pandemic has intensified it  in many communities, shining a light on flaws in the system and the need for action. Housing instability and homelessness will rise if people are unable to pay rent due to job loss or reduced income. As part of the ongoing COVID-19 response, the provincial government has provided municipal service managers with $510 million in much needed social services relief funding. This funding is significantly helping municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards to address homelessness by funding temporary accommodation, renovations of shelters, and new facilities to expand housing options.

AMO is calling upon the provincial government to work with municipalities and the federal government to develop more housing and to create a blueprint to end chronic homelessness in Ontario. This involves understanding root causes of homelessness, what interventions work, and what changes  are needed by municipal, provincial and federal governments. The bottom line is that permanent housing is more cost effective than putting people in shelters, jails or psychiatric beds, and is essential to reducing chronic homelessness. It can also save health and emergency services costs.

AMO will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the community housing sector, to ensure that housing operators are supported, and tenants, especially vulnerable ones, remain housed. On all housing related matters, AMO will continue highlighting municipal priorities to guide provincial and federal investments and legislation. For more information on AMO positions on housing and homelessness, please see Fixing the Housing Affordability Crisis: Municipal Recommendations for Housing in Ontario.

Background

Affordable housing contributes to the economic and social well-being of Ontario’s communities and the province as a whole. Ontario is the only province or territory in Canada where housing is a municipal responsibility. In the context of COVID-19, housing can be the first line of defense and part of the economic recovery. Building and repairing municipally funded community housing can stimulate the economy by contributing to construction multipliers and injecting money to increase consumer spending.

The provincial government recently passed Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which has various municipal impacts. AMO made a submission to committee generally supportive of the legislation with specific comments for how each schedule impacts Ontario municipalities. AMO looks forward to working with the government to inform the regulations under this Act to help achieve effective implementation.