Corp Comm Connects

Peel affordable housing stock - Shifting priorities

July 13, 2016
By Leah Wong

To address Peel Region council’s goal of reducing the wait time for residents needing affordable housing, the region has streamlined its priorities and increased funding for affordable rental units and subsidy programs.

At its meeting Thursday council approved an updated housing investment framework, which seeks to increase the stock of affordable house and thus reduce the wait time for residents on the region’s centralized waiting list for affordable housing. As of 2011 the region’s waiting list included more than 12,800 applicants.

“Investing in all areas of the [housing] continuum creates a healthy housing system and provides a variety of options,” Peel human services commissioner Janice Sheehy told council. “But it does not achieve quick wins in terms of taking people off the waiting list.”

Under the updated framework the region will focus its eff orts on funding projects that include affordable accommodations in five areas-emergency shelter, supportive housing, social housing, subsidized rental and affordable rental.

The region has identified three new funding sources-the federal government’s one-time social infrastructure fund ($25-million), a one-time transfer from the region’s general government working fund ($50-million) and the Ontario Works benefits upload ($9-million annually starting in 2019). With the existing funding from the Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario Extension, Development Charges and Peel reserve funds this brings the total available funds to $209-million.

Under the current framework, council approved the next group of affordable housing projects, which will create 315 units, of which 204 will go to people on the waitlist. The units will include condos, supportive housing, Peel Housing units, seniors housing and affordable rental units.

Since the housing investment framework was first introduced in 2014, Sheehy said staff has faced challenges in increasing the supply of affordable housing. Regional staff learned through feedback from private developers that additional capital incentives are needed to make projects viable. They also mentioned that the provincial timelines are quite aggressive.

“Today is really ... a milestone day for us in the Region of Peel when it comes to dealing with our strategic priority to reduce the waitlist for people in our community that need affordable housing,” Brampton regional councillor Gael Miles told council. “As a region we are caring and compassionate about those in need, but we’re also looking at flexibility and alternatives to the way we do business to try and keep up with the times and also, the ever changing needs of our community.”