Following a presentation to share the Five-Year Review of Niagara’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Action Plan to The Regional Municipality of Niagara’s Public Health & Social Services Committee on October 8th 2019, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services Executive Director Lori Beech noticed a substantial difference in the supportive response from regional councillors on the committee.
Beech reflected that in the past councillors seemed to put the majority of duty to solve the affordable housing crisis in Niagara on service providers and on other levels of government. “I have presented about housing and homelessness to Regional Council in the past and this time the response was very different. The comments were positive and councilors were engaged – a 15 minute presentation turned into a 2 hour fulsome discussion on how we can work differently.”
The Niagara’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Action Plan was authored by and co-presented by Jeffrey Sinclair, Homelessness Action Plan Advisor for the Niagara Region.
The formal review process of the first five years of Niagara’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Action Plan (2014-2023) included collaborations and contributions from 22 funded homeless services providers, 62 non-profit and co-operative housing providers, various community groups and working groups, and diverse partners in government, non-profit, and the private sectors.
A legislative requirement of the Housing Services Act, in 2011, the Action Plan provides a framework for integrated local planning to address:
- market housing affordability
- community housing
- coordination of homelessness and related support services
- homelessness prevention
Goal 1 - House People Who Don’t Have A Home
Goal 2 - Help People to Retain a Home
Goal 3 - Increase Housing Options and Opportunities for Low and Medium-Income households
Goal 4 - Build Capacity and Improve the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Housing and Homelessness System
The review identified 75 action items to be completed in years 6-10 of the Action Plan to support the following twelve outcomes related to the four goals:
1. Improve access to shelter and housing for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
2. Reduce the time spent in emergency shelter before successful exit.
3. Improve the housing situation for those exiting emergency shelter.
4. Reduce the time it takes for those who are at risk of homelessness to access prevention services.
5. Improve long-term housing stability for households at risk of homelessness.
6. Improve long-term housing stability for households that have graduated from housing with support programs.
7. Increase the supply of higher-density housing forms, including townhouse and apartments.
8. Increase the number of new community housing units developed, and the proportion of new community housing units that are bachelor/1-bedroom units or four or more bedroom units.
9. Prevent the loss of current community housing stock.
10. Increase the use of best practices in all funded homeless services programs.
11. Increase the number of new initiatives created in partnership with Indigenous, health, corrections, or child welfare systems.
12. Increase the number of policies, practices and services revised to better serve Indigenous people, older adults, youth, women, persons with a disability, Franco-Canadians, and newcomers and refugees.
During the presentation to Council Lori Beech provided several opportunities for ‘HOW COUNCIL COULD SUPPORT THESE OUTCOMES’.
When asked what is the most important recommendation for Council, Beech says, “with recent funding cuts when we have over 23,000 in core housing need and growing - we need the strongest advocacy efforts for provincial and federal funding that will allow more Niagara Regional Housing agreements for rent supplement opportunities that can reduce financial pressure for lower income households. Furthering these household situations will have a continuous detrimental effect on the overall economy, locally, provincially and federal.”
- The presentation and summary of the report can be found on pages 13 – 35 of The Regional Municipality of Niagara Public Health & Social Services Committee Agenda Click Here
- To read the News Article covering the meeting on Oct 8th 2019 at to Regional Council Committee Click Here
- To read the latest News Article with additional information about the Homelessness Crisis in Niagara Click Here