People who provide and advocate for affordable housing have been positive about the 2016 federal budget because it moves Canada in the right direction for the next two years.
The budget boosts federal funding for new affordable housing to about $1.1 billion a year nationwide. If we bracket the large and much-needed amounts for First Nations and Northern Canada, the amount that will flow to provinces and municipalities is an average of $352 million annually in federal dollars. With their matching funds, the provinces could see just over $600 million a year. The budget describes this as a doubling of the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) program through which these dollars will be delivered. In addition there is an average of $287 million annually for repairing existing older social housing, and modest extra amounts for women’s shelters, homelessness funding, rental mortgage financing, and other essential housing needs.
For several years, the FMTA has joined the call for greater investment from the Federal government in affordable housing and has called for a National Housing Strategy. We are pleased with this much-needed investment in housing.
To read a further analysis of what this investment would mean for affordable housing in Ontario, visit:
Tenants often fall victim to misleading clauses and language in leases and are taken advantage of by landlords. This article provides ten useful tips as well as a summary of beneficial resources to get more information.
Tips include the following:
1) You cannot stop paying your rent even if there are maintenance or repair problems (including rodent or insect infestations) or if your landlord is not respecting your rights as a tenant.
2) "Damage” and “cleaning” deposits are illegal. Landlords cannot use your rent deposit to pay for damages, cleaning, etc.
3) Tenants can be evicted during the winter. There’s an urban myth that a landlord cannot evict you in winter. This is untrue.
The article calls for government action to implement a standardized lease which complies with the law.
To read the rest of the tips, visit Now Magazine at:
From budget cuts to gentrification to a dismally inadequate shelter system that leaves many homeless people exposed to fatal temperatures in the winter months, Toronto's housing market is in crisis.
Deeply entrenched systems of discrimination make the search for housing much more difficult for many marginalized groups including people with disabilities, people who are low income or receive social assistance, single parents, and new immigrants, members of LGBTQ2 communities, people with criminal records, and people transitioning out of homelessness or incarceration. The pressure is also felt by racialized people, even middle-class and professional workers.
Studies have shown that along with new immigrants and people of African descent, Indigenous people experience particularly high rates of housing discrimination in Canada, a country built on dispossession of land through violence and fraudulent treaty processes.
The article delves into illegal deposits, covert discrimination and specifically the prejudice faced by single mothers and indigenous and racialized people. To read the full article, visit:
Affordable housing activists are applauding the United Nations for giving Canada “a boot in the butt” for failing to live up to its international obligations to protect vulnerable Canadians.
In a recent report, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed “concern about the persistence of a housing crisis” in Canada and called on Ottawa to bring in a national housing strategy that recognizes the right to housing.
The committee also urged Canada to ensure homeless people and other disadvantaged groups have access to the judicial system when they feel their rights are being violated.
To read the full Toronto Star article, visit:
As part of a sweeping bill passed by the Liberal government to combat sexual violence in the province, it is now possible for tenants who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence to just give 28 days’ notice to their landlords in order to break the lease. This flexibility halves the time required under the law to terminate a tenancy.
However, the new law does require that tenants wishing to exercise the option provide their landlord with some documentation, such as a restraining order, which might create an impediment for some, but generally the amendment to the law is regarded as a positive step to provide greater protection to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
To learn more about the recent changes to the law, please read the National Post article here:
Ontario is introducing a suite of legislative and policy measures, and investing $178 million over three years, to ensure that the people of Ontario have access to affordable and adequate housing.
Last year, Ontario announced that it would consult with communities to update the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, first launched in 2010. The updated strategy is informed by feedback from key stakeholders including clients, developers, municipalities and advocates. It is intended to make housing programs more people-centered and coordinated, and provide municipalities with flexibility to meet local needs.
To increase the supply of affordable housing and support the province's goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years, Ontario is:
Creating a framework for a portable housing benefit that would give people who receive housing assistance the flexibility to choose where they want to live. Further, the province will invest more than $17 million over three years to provide a portable housing benefit on a pilot basis to eventually support up to 3,000 survivors of domestic violence.
Proposing legislation for inclusionary zoning that would enable municipalities to mandate the inclusion of affordable housing units in new development projects.
Developing a Supportive Housing Policy Framework to improve client outcomes, and providing more than $100 million in funding over the next three years for new supportive housing to improve access for up to 4,000 families and individuals to services like counselling, dispensing medication, and life skills, as well as support the construction of up to 1,500 new supportive housing units over the long term.
Providing an additional $45 million over three years to the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.
- Developing an Indigenous Housing Strategy in partnership with Indigenous communities.
To read more on this story, including some key facts about housing and homelessness in Ontario, visit the Government of Ontario website at:
Juggling limited means and a desire to live close to campus, students often find themselves marginalized in the rental market. As housing prices soar, the possibility of homeownership is slipping away from many students after graduation.
This article delves into the common challenges faced by student renters: pests, a lack of familiarity with the legal process and unscrupulous landlords. Drawing on several case studies, while bringing together perspectives from students, workers at the University of Toronto’s housing office and Downtown Legal Services; the article suggests renting with caution, while fighting for greater protection for tenants.
To read the full article, visit:
In what is being described as a landmark ruling, the Human Rights Tribunal awarded $30,000 to several members of a Scarborough co-operative. The ruling stems from complaints about offensive posters targeting numerous members of the co-op, including some with disabilities. The ruling’s precedential value lies in its clarification of the role of housing providers to not only address instances of harassment, but to also keep affected tenants informed about steps that are being taken.
To read the coverage of the decision in the Toronto Star, visit:
The province is considering a proposal to privatize evictions, either by creating a quasi-independent non-profit or approving a list of designated contractors. Tenant advocates were understandably alarmed with the bid to involve private individuals in the justice system, such that profit rather than the legal process becomes a driving force.
In 2013-14, the Landlord and Tenant Board received over 84,000 eviction applications, out of which 71% were for nonpayment of rent. The concern is that private contractors, eager to out-perform the competition, while charging a premium to evict early would overlook the need to refer vulnerable tenants to shelters or other social services.
The FMTA is quoted in the article, describing the proposal as "opening up a whole can of worms."
To read the article, visit:
This opinion piece in Now Magazine convincingly argues that already cash strapped tenants should not be further penalized by the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Board, which routinely passes on the costs of an eviction hearing (roughly $170) to an evicted tenant is perpetuating an unjust set of laws and practices which punishes low-income Ontarians simply for being poor.
As rents continue to inflate and job security and incomes plummet, the number of working poor and low-income Ontarians continues to grow. The landlords who file the majority of eviction applications at the Board are largely corporate landlords who annually make massive profits.
The article argues that the law should be changed to reflect this desperate reality for tenants.
To read the full article, visit Now Magazine at: