Community

Region embarks on new housing, homelessness plan

Following a year in which the highest number of York Region households on the subsidized housing wait list accessed rent subsidies in a single year, the regional council is calling on the provincial and federal governments to lend helping hands.

“Working with community partners and all levels of government to build complete communities with a full range of supports remains a critical priority for York Regional Council to continue to help people to find and keep housing,” York Region CEO Wayne Emmerson says.

“To support new community housing development and better enable the region to achieve its goal to double community housing growth, we are requesting the federal and provincial governments to commit to two-thirds of the total cost, representing one-third from each level of government.”

York Region has funded more than 60 per cent of the capital costs to develop new community and emergency housing projects but can no longer carry the bulk of capital costs required for new development while building at the scale and speed needed to address housing needs, Commissioner of Community and Health Services Katherine Chislet and Chief Planner Paul Freeman warn in the Housing Solutions 2022 Progress Report and 2023 Action Plan.

The region completed each of the 30 actions identified in the action plan endorsed by council last summer, which includes constructing 265 new units in Markham and 97 new units in Whitchurch-Stouffville last year. It helped 629 households from the subsidized housing wait list access rent subsidies and launched the first phase of the online subsidized housing offer process, matching wait list applicants with available units more quickly.

Also, according to the Progress Report, it expanded the Outreach Program and supported 572 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It continued the Emergency Housing Central Intake Line pilot and provided a 24/7 central access point to emergency housing services and information for people experiencing homelessness.

As Service Manager, York Region is required by the Housing Services Act, 2011 to develop a 10-year housing and homelessness plan, to report annually on progress and to complete a review of the plan at least once every five years. With this year marking the last year of the current 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan, work is underway to develop a new 10-year plan.

“The new plan will focus on increasing the supply of affordable and community housing options and enhancing housing stability supports to address homelessness,” says Gino Rosati, chair of the region’s Community and Health Services. Council will receive the new plan next year. To learn more about housing and homelessness in York Region, visit york.ca/housing.

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