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National Housing Strategy (NHS) Action Plan - Issue Report

Report To: Program Planning Committee

From: Lori Clark, Director of Integrated Human Services
          Rhonda McCauley, Integrated Human Services Manager

Date: April 17, 2024

Re: National Housing Strategy (NHS) Action Plan - Update 


To update the Board regarding the recent announcements pertaining to funding under the National Housing Strategy.


The National Housing Strategy, which was launched in 2017, is a 10-year plan by the Federal Government designed to address the needs of Canadians across the housing continuum. The plan incorporated a range of programs and initiatives to ensure that more people living in Canada have access to safe, affordable, and inclusive housing.

The NHS provided our organization with funding through several initiatives since inception and most recently with funding through the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI), the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI), Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) and the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP).

Staff received a letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing indicating that the Federal Government has communicated to the Provincial Minister that they disagree with the reported number of new community housing units allocated towards the overall Provincial target. (11,529 units towards the target of 19,660). As a result, the Federal Government has announced that it will be cutting $355 million in funding that was earmarked for the initiative.

In October 2023, we advised the Board of our revised plan to allocate funds under the COCHI and OPHI funding initiatives via the attached report. The announcement was made just days before the new funding year was to begin.

These projects under the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI) that were in the planning stage for 2024-2025 include new windows and service doors in Mindemoya, Sanitary Drain repairs and accessibility ramp repairs in Espanola. The impact of this affects 63 residents for these projects alone.    Should the Federal Government withhold funding to the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) or the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) there will be further impact to low-income families who receive rent subsidy. Last fiscal year, the COHB assisted 57 low-income households with housing stability that do not qualify for our other rental subsidies. The COHB Benefit provides, first and last month’s rent, and ongoing monthly rental subsidy. We currently have 31 applicants for this benefit waiting for assistance.

Funding under the OPHI program for 2024-2025 was slated to have new windows installed in Little Current, impacting another 20 residents, should this also be cut.

The organization further uses the funding from the COCHI_OPHI program to support our Non-Profit providers in undertaking projects This permits capital reserves to be used towards other items in their maintenance plan to either be advanced for completion or retained for use as needed in future. Removal of these dollars will have a negative impact on our ability to support them as well.

The grave news related to these programs has resulted in several of our partners requesting all levels of government reconsider and reverse the decision made to withhold this funding. We have heard from AMO, NOSDA, Kenora DSSAB, Thunder Bay DSSAB, Nipissing DSSAB, and Ontario Aboriginal Housing (OAHS) to name but a few.


As a result of this announcement, staff have made the decision to hold all projects that have not been contracted or were scheduled to be fully or partially funded under these programs.

The impact of this decision is detrimental to the Organization and to our Service Manager colleagues. The decision of our Federal Government to decrease funding to the Community Housing Program will have a significant impact on our portfolio as the dollars were earmarked to support ongoing capital repairs to both our own housing portfolio as well as to support our Non-Profit providers.

Our Capital contribution budgeted to sustain our portfolio has seen an increase due to the aging of our properties and the substantial elevation to construction material and labour.

AMO, OMSSA, and the Provincial Minister are all lobbying with the Federal Government to reverse the decision to cut the funding and to consider the devasting impact on low-income families and individuals.