At a single event on Wednesday April 24, M.P.P. David Piccini made two announcements about money to be provided to Northumberland County: 1) $5M will be provided to Northumberland municipalities to allow them to “find smarter ways to deliver services” and 2) $1.8M will be provided to “invest (in) and improve affordable housing”. Since these grants are unconditional, the Province is trusting Municipalities to use them for the intended purposes. The announcements were made at the County building – $725K of the “improve service delivery” money will go to the county, $619K will go to Cobourg and the rest of the $5M will go to the other County Municipalities. All of the $1.8M for affordable housing will go to the County. Although several Mayors were present at the announcement, there was no indication at this point where the money will be spent on improving the efficiency of service delivery.
Improving Service Delivery and Efficiency
In explaining the rationale, the announcement said:
The province undertook a line-by-line review of its own expenditures, and has been clear that they expect their partners, including municipalities, to be taking steps to become more efficient. Examples could include service delivery reviews, development of shared services agreements, IT solutions, capital investments or other projects. Municipalities will decide how to best target funding to benefit their local communities.
The Ontario government is taking a different approach to fiscal management, job creation, and how we deliver core services by putting our municipalities and people first.
Invest in and Improve Affordable Housing.
Most of the $1,809,026 will come from the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative which was started in 2013. Warden John Logel commented:
As local municipalities and partner agencies work to address housing and homelessness challenges in Northumberland, ongoing Provincial support is critical.
In addition to the grant announced, MPP Piccini mentioned other initiatives designed to help via the new Community Housing Renewal Strategy which provided some policy/regulation changes:
- Encouraging tenants to seek opportunities at school and work by removing existing penalties for working more hours or going to college or university;
- Making rent more predictable by simplifying rent calculations;
- Freeing up the wait-list by having tenants prioritize their first choice and accept the first unit they are offered, while allowing Service Managers flexibility to make exceptions in extenuating circumstances;
- Protecting tenants who receive child support payments by ensuring their rent is not impacted by payments;
- Making housing available to those who truly need it by requiring an asset test;
- Making housing safer by empowering housing providers to turn away tenants who have been evicted for criminal activity.
It appears that affordable housing (also called community housing) is getting increasing attention at not only first tier municipalities but also at the Provincial level.
- Press Release – Improving Service Delivery and Efficiency
- Press Release – Invest in and Improve Affordable Housing
- Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative – Government web site
- Community Housing Renewal Strategy – Government web site. Published 17 April 2019
- Council Acts on Affordable Housing – 1 April 2019