Huron County to advocate for affordable housing

·3 min read

HURON COUNTY – Huron County council authorized Warden Glen McNeil to join other municipalities in asking the federal government for “Ontario’s fair share of federal funding for housing programs,” at the request of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark.

Clark’s request was sent to each consolidated municipal service manager after the federal government failed to provide a multi-year commitment to continued funding for the affordable housing initiatives that began in 2019.

The federal government has provided funding allocations for 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 fiscal years, but the 2022-23 announcement did not include distributions moving forward.

Christine Hoffman, Huron County’s manager of housing services, submitted a report to council outlining the services that may be affected if the funding runs out.

“Without future funding commitments from the federal and provincial governments after March 2023, expiring Investment in Affordable Housing Programs (IAH) funding through 2023-2026 will not be able to be sustained at the current levels without municipal funding,” said Hoffman.

The province started the Canada/Ontario Community Housing Renewal Initiative (COCHI) in 2019 to help repair, grow, and sustain community housing systems, to make them work better for the people it serves.

Hoffman said in her report, “COCHI funding represents a reinvestment of federal funding that has been declining under the Canada-Ontario Social Housing Agreement. It provides an opportunity for service managers and housing providers to address the challenges associated with projects reaching the end of their operating agreements and/or mortgage maturity.”

Under the National Housing Strategy, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit program (COHB) began on April 1, 2020. This assistance provides a direct, monthly benefit payment to eligible households to help pay their rent.

Hoffman said, “To maximize existing investments and processes set up for similar funding programs and to ensure portability across the province, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit is provincially delivered.”

“The Ministry of Finance determines eligibility, calculates the benefit, provides payments directly to households and manages the annual renewal process,” added Hoffman. “Portability provides recipients the freedom to choose where to live and make the housing choices that are best for them, whether in the private market or in community housing.”

Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) will help increase the affordable housing supply and improve the state of repair of the social housing stock.

Hoffman’s report said, “OPHI is modelled after similar, previous affordable housing programs, with the most recent being the Investment in Affordable Housing Program.”

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released the 2022-23 funding roll-out for the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative, the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI), and the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit Programs on April 27.

The funding allocations for Huron County for the time frame of April 1, 2022 - March 31, 2023 are:

Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative - $48,131;

Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative - $270,200; and

Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit - $149,200.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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