Toronto low-income housing programs brace for cuts

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“We are already in a housing crisis and these cuts will mean… more people being evicted into homelessness”

Budget projections from Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) call for deep funding cuts from the city, although the same document notes that more and more people in the city are experiencing “homelessness”. chronic shelterism”.

The ASIS budget says emergency shelters, 24-hour respite sites and 24-hour reception centers across the city are overwhelmed, noting:

“Since the start of 2020, the number of chronically homeless people in Toronto’s shelter system has increased by approximately 500 people. Indeed, despite targeted efforts to help chronically homeless people move, the number of people crossing the threshold to become chronically homeless each month generally exceeds the number of people moving out of chronic homelessness.

As PressProgress previously reportedToronto shelters ran above 90% capacity for years – with those using the system huddled together, with almost no privacy or even personal space.

The system, like the Toronto Star reported more recently, is completely full.

Yet according to ASIS budget projections, the agency is set to see its budget cut from $1,252.5 million in 2022 to $997.1 million next year – a reduction of more than $200 million. – even if it does not foresee a decline in its customers.

According to the budget’s cost forecast, this reduction in spending is to be achieved through a “reversal of COVID-19 response spending of $288.335 million” that helped ensure facilities adhered to public health guidelines and a ” decrease in 100% funded social housing programs”.

In addition, the budget includes a reduction in the system’s capital repair budget — from $207.669 million to $184.993 million by 2024.

Asked about this projection, a city spokesperson acknowledged: “Despite the continuous addition of new beds, the accommodation system is at or near capacity most nights. »

But the spokesperson added:

“Throughout 2022, the City continued to experience significant and unprecedented financial impacts, both in the form of additional costs and lost revenue as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. SSHA forecasts net unfavorable spending variance of $78.9 million by year-end 2022, primarily driven by higher-than-expected COVID-19 response spending and revenue shortfalls due to the non-receipt of federal revenue to support the city’s 2022 refugee response initiative.

“The City remains determined to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring; but he cannot do it alone,” the spokesperson added.

While the Toronto Community Housing Corporation will be funded through the Housing Secretariat budget in 2023, its budget projections also call for a reduction in major repairs from $447.700 million in 2022 to $371.750 million by 2024.

Looking ahead, the social housing agency expects its capital budget to be “unfunded” at $76.500 million by 2026.

For years the TCHC has seen a massive and growing backlog of repairs – leading to mass closures of unsafe units and installations.

TCHC is also planning a funding cut of $13.1 million as its low-income tenants are less able to pay rent.

“TCHC expects continued impacts to its RGI rent due to reduced tenant incomes based on the monthly trend in 2021. Additionally, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program which supplemented tenant income ended in October 2021, further impacting RGI future rents. Both of these impacts were reflected in Budget 2022 for COVID-19 impacts. In 2020, the Province of Ontario enacted legislation that froze tenant rents for 2021. This legislation negatively impacted TCHC, resulting in decreased RGI revenue throughout 2021. As of January 2022, the rent freeze will be lifted, allowing TCHC to increase its rent rates. . However, due to the continued impacts of COVID, TCHC expects a reduction in household income in 2022 for RGI tenants.

TCHC declined requests for comment on the budget statement.

Community leaders say the planned and apparent cuts will hurt vulnerable people.

“These cuts are deeply troubling,” said Trevor Manson, secretary and co-chair of the ODSP Action Coalition.

“Last time we checked, the waiting list for subsidized/RGI housing in Toronto was approaching 80,000 names with a wait time of 10 to 12 years,” Manson said.

“We are already in a housing crisis and these cuts will mean more names on the waiting list, longer waiting times and more people being evicted into homelessness and despair.”

Etobicoke ACORN The co-chair said the budget cuts contradict the city’s commitment that “housing is a basic human right.”

“Shelters are at capacity and housing is in crisis with both affordability and maintenance levels,” Rinne said. Tap Progress.

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