Understanding Our Local Social Housing Landscape
A Brief Social Housing Overview
CMHC began providing affordable housing for low-income families after WW II. This public housing was owned and operated by the government.
In the 1970ís affordable housing was streamed into cooperative and non-profit housing. The funding was provided by CMHC to community boards.
Between 1985 and 1989, the Ontario government also directly provided social housing funding directly to the nonprofits and coops. In the decade to follow, both federal and provincial governments withdrew from construction commitments.
The Social Housing Reform Act (2000) began the devolution of social housing administration from the province to the municipalities [Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) and to local District Social Services Boards (DSSAB) in Northern Ontario.]
Ownership of the units that were directly administrated by the provincial government was transferred to local housing corporations. The Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) is both the area Service System Manager for subsidized social housing programs and the owner of the transferred public housing units. The non-profit boards continued to operate as housing providers but the monies from the federal and provincial subsidy programs were streamed through the District Services Board. Eligibility for these transfer payments remain under the oversight of the District Services.
There were some units that were funded under federal programs that have transferred into yet another stream.
The homes on Universal Drive in Kenora that were built under the Rural & Urban Aboriginal (CMHC) are under the management of the Metis Nation of Ontario. These homes had 25 year mortgages in a subsidized home ownership program.
Non-Profit Subsidized Housing Providers
There are three types of non profit subsidized housing (private, municipal and public).
In Kenora, the KDSB owns and administers 207 units.
The Kenora Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation owns 206 (156 SHRA Units and 50 units under the Federal Program), Keewatin Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation owns 34 (14 SHRA units and 20 under the federal program) and Aamikkowiish Non Profit through two corporations owns 16 units (6 SHRA units, and 10 units under the Urban Native Program which are for people of Native Ancestry only).
In addition there are 4 units on the rent supplement program. The Rent supplement units are all for special needs and not open to the general wait list.
Funding for private and municipal housing providers can come from four streams
1. Tenant rent
2. Government subsidy programs ( ie. CMHC funding funnelled through the MMAH and then KDSB)
3. Local tax base
4. Private fundraising
The KDSB does not have the same flexibility in accessing capital funding as does the private and municipal non profits however the decision to build new housing that is dependent upon government subsidy programs for sustainability, is reliant upon the KDSBís approval of transfer payments (i.e. annual operational costs in excess of the tenant rental revenue. In subsidized housing the KDSB through levies to the local tax base cover the difference between the actual cost of operation and the tenant rent. This subsidization requires adherence to the province or federal government funding criteria. It is not only the capital costs that create a barrier to expansion of affordable housing stock but also the annual operational costs including but not limited to utilities, capital reserves administration, insurance, debt service, maintenance, property tax, janitorial, suite preparation, grounds, snow removal and yard care.
Nonprofits have two types of reserve funds. The first is the amount set aside for the maintenance and repair of current housing stock. This money cannot be used for anything except the replacement and repair of existing items on existing buildings. The second reserve fund (surplus cash reserves, if any) can be allocated as directed by the municipal and private nonprofits. In Kenora, the Kenora Municipal Non Profit Housing, and Keewatin Municipal Non profit Housing Corporation are the responsibility of the City of Kenora.
Options for Expanding Affordable Housing Stock
1. The KDSB could increase their affordable housing stock through a mixture of government subsidies, debentures and/or increasing costs to municipalities. Sustainability of proposed project must be ensured before committing to the build. Capital costs are only the first challenge with the biggest challenge being the ongoing operational costs.
2. The KDSB can participate in further rent subsidization programs through some type of rent supplement program. The operational costs in this program are administrative in nature. In addition to payment of subsidies to the landlords, the KDSB is responsible to oversee landlords to ensure that applicants given to them by KDSB are tenanted in the right order, the rent is properly calculated, the unit meets housing standards and the payment of subsidies to landlord.
3. Municipal nonprofits could construct projects that are a mix of market and subsidized units to reduce operation costs over time. These projects would need to meet KDSBís sustainability requirements if they want KDSB to provide annual subsidization for operational funding. Funding of the costs could also be accessed through the municipalityís resources that also include tax increases and debentures.
4. Private nonprofits could access funding to cover the capital costs
and achieve sustainability through rent revenues. If the nonprofit has
received rent subsidization, rents charged must be in compliance with the
Social Housing Reform Act as well as the Residential Tenancies Act.