Community

Work continues on housing, homelessness plan

As York Region continues to develop its next 10-year housing and homelessness plan to present to council in 2025, it will continue calls to the federal and provincial governments to expand the supply of affordable and community housing.

Staff, meanwhile, will continue to use the existing plan to help residents find and keep affordable housing and address homelessness.

The region’s first 10-year housing and homelessness plan, Housing Solutions: A place for everyone, was approved in June 2014. In keeping with provincial requirements, council updated the plan in 2019 with new goals that included increasing the supply of affordable and rental housing.

Also, in keeping with provincial requirements, service managers like York Region must report publicly annually on progress achieved in advancing their 10-year plans. That report is brought to council each June with a summary of outcomes achieved in the previous year, updates on performance and system indicators, and an action plan for the following year. Council will receive the final progress report on the current plan in June.

Since council approved the updated Housing Solutions plan in 2019, housing market pressures and resident needs have continued to increase, leading council to declare a housing affordability crisis in February 2021. The region continues to face growing housing unaffordability and limited rental supply, with a rental vacancy rate of just one per cent in 2022, well below the healthy rate of three per cent.

Meanwhile, demand for subsidized housing continues to grow, with 2,400 new eligible applications added to the Region’s subsidized housing wait list in 2022. Supply is not keeping pace: as of December 31, 2022, there were 14,867 households on the subsidized housing wait list, with about 371 applicants housed annually on average between 2008 and 2022.

The number of people experiencing homelessness in York Region and across the province is also on the rise. The region’s emergency and transitional housing facilities are consistently at or near capacity. Increased numbers of asylum seekers continue to put additional pressures on emergency and transitional housing facilities.

In December 2023, 848 people were on the By-Name List, which is a real-time list of known people experiencing homelessness who’ve connected with a homelessness service or support in York Region. That’s up year-over-year from 552 people or 54 per cent. The number of people receiving Ontario Works benefits in York Region increased by 25 per cent between December 2022 and December 2023.

The new 10-year plan will be informed by work underway on the Affordable Private Market Housing Implementation PlanCommunity Housing Development Master Plan and Homelessness Services System Plan.

More information can be found at york.ca/housing.

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