Members of the MultiFaith Alliance to End Homelessness who come from diverse faith communities and organizations in the Toronto area believe that all residents need and deserve adequate, secure and affordable housing. We are also convinced that investments in housing bring economic, social and health benefits that contribute to the liveability and prosperity of our City.
Unmet housing needs remain critical. The waiting list for social housing is at an all-time high of 76,549 households. Although the Streets to Homes program has housed over 2800 formerly homeless people, the overall numbers of homeless including shelter users remain relatively unchanged, with increases and decreases in refugee family numbers accounting for any major fluctuations from year to year.
Our major concerns about this year’s shelter- and housing-related budgets are the means used to meet budget targets and the resulting outlook for 2012 and following years. Of two reserve funds in Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, one was depleted in 2010 and this year’s withdrawal will deplete the other. The Affordable Housing Office is using part of the Capital Revolving Fund to meet operating costs rather than for its intended use as low-interest loans and grants for nonprofit housing development. These uses of funds are not sustainable.
Federal and provincial governments are sources of underfunding that also cause us concern about the adequacy of funding for homelessness and housing programs in 2012 and beyond. These are:
- the gradual loss of federal subsidies for social housing as agreements expire
- the end in March of the 2-year economic stimulus funding for repair and retrofit of social housing and for new homes for seniors and disabled people, and
- the gap in the provincial per diem funding of shelters
At the same time success in meeting the goals of the 10-year HOT plan also depends on City financial inputs. As 2012 budget discussions begin almost immediately after approval of the 2011 budget, we strongly urge the Committee to protect programs and services vital not only for individuals, but for the health, and economic and social well-being of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. These include:
- Streets to Homes
- Funding for agencies which prevent evictions, assist people to find housing, and provide practical supports for very low income people
- Financial incentives for developers of affordable and supportive housing, including affordable units in condo developments
- Revitalization of social housing for inclusive, mixed-income communities
- Tower renewal for aging, unsafe and unhealthy rental buildings in low-income neighbourhoods, and
- Continued use of a portion of development charges revenues for affordable ownership housing