Written by Vera Feng
April 28, 2023
Cahdco is writing to express deep concern regarding the uneven funding allocation for supportive housing and homelessness across Ontario’s municipalities in the 2023 Ontario Budget. The Ontario Budget allocates an annual commitment of $202 million to the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.
However, the $845,100 allocation to the City of Ottawa, only second to Toronto in population within the province, is devastating news for the Ottawa community. While Toronto is slated to receive $48 million according to this year’s provincial budget, Ottawa is intended to receive an amount equivalent to 1/60 of support provided to Toronto. Ottawa’s population closer to 1/6 of Toronto’s population, based on Toronto’s allocation Ottawa should be allocated at least $16 to $18 million.
In Ontario, affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs are co-funded, planned and administered by 47 Service System Managers. Ontario’s service managers receive funding from the province through the Homelessness Prevention Program to develop and deliver programs and supports to address homelessness that best meet local needs. According to the Ontario provincial website Addressing homelessness resource and the Housing and Homelessness Services in Ontario reader by the Ontario Municipal Services Association (OMSSA), the Homelessness Prevention Program alone is responsible for the following:
|management of affordable housing units||managing wait lists and access to affordable housing|
|administering funding||funding programs including but not limited to emergency shelter programs, supportive housing programs, and community outreach and support service|
|providing capacity building to non-profit and co-operative housing providers|
Without the adequate funding to support all these responsibilities for Ottawa, meeting our community’s needs is not possible. In addition to meeting local housing support needs, smaller nearby municipalities send unhoused individuals with high support needs to the closest city. As such, Ottawa is expected to have more resources to make sure all unhoused individuals, new to Ottawa or not, get the support they deserve.
Cahdco works with many non-profit groups providing supportive housing helping them navigate the challenges of the development and funding process. This includes Cornerstone Housing for Women, Anglican Diocese, Multifaith Housing Initiative, Youth Services Bureau, and Ottawa Salus. These projects were only possible with the support of often multiple different funding programs and agreements, many of which depended on provincial funding allocations to the Homelessness Prevention Program.
In their Housing and Homelessness Services in Ontario reader OMSSA states that “increasingly, housing affordability is recognized as a key driver for poverty reduction, improved health outcomes, and economic and labour market development, and the Service System Management role is vital to a strong system of affordable housing options for Ontarians.”
As the second most populated municipality in the province, adequate supportive housing and homelessness prevention funding is essential for our community’s long-term resilience and building a Strong Ontario. We urge the Ontario Government to revisit the allocation to Ottawa in the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.
April 28, 2023