Dear Minister Phillips,
The Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa (ATEHO) is a member-driven coalition collaborating and advocating to prevent and end homelessness in Ottawa.
In Canada, there are approximately 200,000 people experiencing homelessness, costing the country $7 billion annually. The 2016 Waiting List Survey Report by the Ontario Non Profit Housing Association notes that 171,360 Ontariohouseholds are waiting for a home they can afford.
Ottawa City Council passed a motion on January 29th, 2020 declaring an affordable housing and homelessness emergency and crisis. Homelessness in Ottawa has increased across all demographics, overnight emergency shelter use increased by 6.5% to a record high of almost 8000 unique individuals, and there are over 12,000 applicants on the social housing waiting list, a 14.8% increase and an all-time high.
Prioritize and Invest in the Development of Ontario’s Affordable Housing Stock
Affordable housing is critical for the creation of healthy, economically vibrant, safe and livable communities. However, housing providers are managing aging infrastructure and maintenance needs and limited resources over the past decade for the development of new affordable housing.
The ATEHO urges the Province to:
Enter and maintain cost-shared agreements with the federal government to leverage funding opportunities in the National Housing Strategy;
Fund the additional affordable housing required across Ontario through revenues generated from housing related property taxes, by unlocking provincial surplus lands, and in consulting with municipalities on the development of the necessary planning tools to effectively leverage affordable housing development;
Invest in the repair, maintenance and operation of existing non-profit and co-op housing.
Increase Income Levels for Ontarians Living in Poverty
Minimum wage levels and social assistance rates remain dangerously low and present a tremendous challenge for Ontarians on OW and ODSP who are forced to live in deep poverty. In Ottawa, the current affordable monthly shelter cost for single households at 30% of income is $390 for OW recipients, and $497 for OSDSP recipients. The average market rent for a bachelor apartment in Ottawa is $933.
The ATEHO urges the Province to:
Immediately increase rates for all OW and ODSP recipients to reflect real costs of living, including housing costs;
Increase the minimum wage;
Reinstate the Basic Income pilot;
Invest in labour force skills and meaningful employment for low-income residents.
Support Local Efforts to Prevent and End Homelessness
In order to prevent the complex factors that produce and sustain homelessness, the ATEHO urges the Province to:
Provide funding for supportive housing that coordinates the provision of capital for housing (or housing allowances), with on-going operating funding for related support services.
We hope the Province recognizes our shared interests in making life more affordable and building healthier and safer communities and we thank you for the opportunity to provide input for Ontario’s 2020 Budget.
Interim Executive Director
 Analysis of City of Ottawa data between 2017 and 2018. For more information visit https://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/documents/files/Homelessness-Report-ENG_2018.pdf