Housing Services Act, 2011
The Housing Services Act, 2011 comes into force on January 1, 2012, replacing the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000. The H.S.A. was a cornerstone of the provincial government’s long-term affordable housing strategy. The strategy took years to be developed and it was criticized by ACTO and other housing advocates for its lack of commitment to funding for new affordable housing.
The Housing Services Act gives local municipalities and housing agencies greater flexibility in providing social housing, while affirming the province’s general interest in developing a system of housing and homelessness services throughout the province. Under the new law, municipalities will be responsible for creating and implementing housing and homelessness plans to address local housing issues.
The Housing Services Act, 2011 also governs rent geared to income assistance in the province, but there are few changes in the new law that directly affect tenants. One of the changes housing advocates had hoped for, and which the Government of Ontario promised, is simplification of the income reporting rules for households who receive a rent subsidy. The government had promised to limit household income reporting requirements to once a year, based on the household’s income tax return, but this promise does not appear in the new law. The government has promised to hold consultations to develop new rules related to rent.
Half a million people live in Ontario’s social housing and another 152,000 low-income households are on the active social housing waitlist, facing a wait of up to 21 years in some communities.
There is still much work to be done to improve the housing system in Ontario, and we will continue to advocate for improvements in the Housing Services Act as well as sustained funding for housing needs.
ACTO’s presentation on the Housing Services Act, 2011 may be found here.