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 most 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 and Indigenous partners with $765 million in much needed funding through the Social Services Relief Fund. This significant funding is 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. It has literally saved lives during the pandemic.
AMO is calling upon the provincial government to continue working with municipalities and the federal government to develop more housing and to help end homelessness in the province. On all housing related matters, AMO will continue to highlight municipal priorities to guide provincial and federal investments, legislation, and other measures. For more information on AMO positions on housing and homelessness, please see Fixing the Housing Affordability Crisis: Municipal Recommendations for Housing in Ontario
The provincial government passed Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which has various municipal impacts with respect to Community Housing. AMO is working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to inform the regulations under the Housing Services Act to help achieve effective and fiscally sustainable implementation.
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 and homelessness prevention services are a first line of defense and can be part of the economic and social recovery. Building and repairing municipally funded community housing can stimulate the economy through construction multipliers and increased consumer spending.
AMO is committed to working with all orders of government, as well as the private, nonprofit and cooperative housing sectors, to collaborate on lasting and effective affordable housing solutions.