Report outlines potential consequences of CSUMB elimination
The Wellesley Institute and the Income Security Advocacy Centre have released a report that outlines the potential negative health impacts resulting from elimination of Ontario’s Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB).
The Ministry of Community and Social Services has announced that it will eliminate the CSUMB as of January 1, 2013. This income benefit has been used to pay large or unexpected housing-related costs that keep recipients housed. Benefits include paying first and last month’s rent, heat and hydro, and furniture.
In their report, “The Real Cost of Cutting the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit: A Health Equity Impact Assessment” authors explain that half of the money from the current CSUMB budget will be transferred to a new municipal fund called the Community Homeless Prevention Initiative (CHPI). The CHPI gives municipalities the authority to determine how this provincial money will be spent.
Under the new initiative, benefits will only be offered to those with deep core housing needs, excluding many who could benefit from these funds. The report expresses concern that people with disabilities will be disproportionately affected due to the many barriers they face in securing housing and housing-related resources. In addition, authors indicate that the elimination of the CSUMB may lead to increased and ongoing institutional residency for people with mental illnesses.
The report explains the relationship between health inequities and poor mental health. Using a health impact assessment lens, it identifies the health populations most at risk of worsening health and increased homelessness if this benefit is eliminated. The authors of the report call for a reinstatement of the benefit in its current form, warning that those facing the most health inequities – those on social assistance – will be the most impacted by this plan.