Submission in Response to Long-Term Affordable Housing Consultations, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
CMHA Ontario appreciates the opportunity to share our perspective and provide our recommendations to inform the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy for Ontario. We held an internal consultation with a group of our stakeholders, including local CMHA Branches: Niagara, Oxford, Champlain East and Nipissing to discuss the content of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing LTAHS consultation document. The following is a summary of our discussion.
Access to more housing and especially housing with supports for people with mental illnesses and addictions has long been a priority for CMHA. Housing with supports are critical components of recovery from mental illnesses and addictions. With the right housing and supports, people recovering from mental illnesses and addictions gain a renewed sense of dignity and hope and can re- integrate into the community more successfully. There is no recovery without proper housing. CMHA Ontario was pleased that the next phase of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, announced in the fall of 2014, included a commitment to invest $16 million to create 1,000 more supportive housing spaces over the next three years, as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The development of a revamped Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS) for Ontario brings a renewed focus on the rising numbers in need of affordable housing and people with mental illnesses and addictions who need supportive housing options.
However, the renewed LTAHS must be developed with a view to create a sustainable supply over the next twenty to thirty years. Therefore, the LTAHS must not be inhibited by the immediate and short-term financial constraints of the current fiscal picture.
General Recommendations for Affordable Housing in Ontario
For affordable housing, CMHA Ontario calls on the Ontario government to:
- Continue investing in the implementation of Ontario’s Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy, with a special focus on providing housing for individuals with mental health and addiction issues.
- Support future investment in the Housing First model, where housing is provided as the first step, in combination with rent supplements and support services, to people who are homeless and living with mental health and addiction issues.
- Continue to provide access to a range of housing options such as supportive housing, supported housing with or without on-site staff, rent supplements and short stay crisis safe beds for those with mental health and addiction needs and those involved with the justice system.
- Increase funding for additional rent supplements across the province. Individuals can use rent supplements to gain greater access to supportive housing. Supportive housing providers can also potentially use rent supplement funding to leverage private capital for new construction and thereby create additional housing stock.