The Housing Benefit is a bold idea that would address a number of issues including: modernizing our income security system; improving housing affordability; reducing homelessness; improving accessibility to good food and nutrition for the poor; and, like the Ontario Child Benefit, reducing financial barriers in the transition from social assistance to employment. Low- income tenants who are working and those receiving social assistance would both be eligible. There would be no clawbacks for social assistance recipients.
The Housing Benefit was developed by a Working Group that includes both private sector and front-line agencies that work with low-income communities on the ground, including: Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario; Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association; Greater Toronto Apartment Association; Daily Bread Food Bank; Metcalf Charitable Foundation; and Atkinson Charitable Foundation.
The full report and supporting materials can be downloaded below:
Affordability Matters – People struggling with hunger cannot reach their full potential. If people can better afford their rent, it will be easier for them to afford food. A housing benefit given to help cover rent costs would help many to be able to both pay their rent AND put food on the table, whether they are receiving social assistance or working.
Opportunity Matters – Benefits people receive from social assistance are taken away, or “clawed back” from the next month if extra income is received from employment. This has been shown to create serious barriers for the transition from welfare to work, because people don’t have a chance to get ahead. A housing benefit as proposed would not be subject to clawbacks until higher level of income earned, giving a “hand up”. Help during this transition period to employment enables opportunity, and can enable independence.
Community Matters – People not only need to live somewhere they can afford, but also live near work, schools, and essential services. A housing benefit can allow people to have more of a choice of where they are able to live, as the benefit is paid directly to the tenant. A housing benefit can also recognize that the cost of rent varies across the province, which current benefits do not.
Contact your MPP, and tell them Housing Matters and to endorse an Ontario housing benefit. Find your local MPP.
Housing facts in Ontario:
1 in 5 Ontario tenant households spend 50% of their income on rent. Paying anything over 50% puts people at a high risk of homelessness.
On average, food bank clients pay 71% of their income on housing.
152,000 Ontario households are on social housing waiting lists.