Niagara’s NDP MPPs Urge Ontario Housing Minister to Offer Region’s Homelessness Services a Fair Deal

“Thousands of our residents are in shelters or emergency hotel accommodations, unable to find affordable housing. We have heard stories of people in our community forced to sleep under bridges.”

News from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

Niagara MPPs Jeff Burch, Wayne Gates and Jennie Stevens

Posted January 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK  NDP Official Opposition MPPs Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre), Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), and Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) have issued an open letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The letter, posted below, highlights the devastating impact of the unfair funding formula under the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) that fails to provide the resources needed for Niagara.

The MPPs are calling for a new funding model that matches local demand for homelessness services and ensures equitable allocation.

Open Letter to  Steve Clark, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing –

Dear Minister Clark:  

We are sending you this letter on behalf of the people of Niagara. Niagara is facing a critical issue of housing and homelessness.

Thousands of our residents are in shelters or emergency hotel accommodations, unable to find affordable housing; we have heard stories of people in our community forced to sleep under bridges.

The current funding formula for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) exacerbates this issue. For many years Niagara has done more with less under previous Liberal Governments, and constituents in Niagara are requesting a fair deal.   

In 2012, the provincial Liberal Government under Kathleen Wynne consolidated several housing programs into the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative. Unlike its predecessors, CHPI funding is capped, making it difficult for municipalities to respond to sudden surges in demand for shelter or homeless prevention programs.  

Niagara’s shelters continue to operate at over 100 per cent capacity, with a 160 per cent increase in hotel use from 2017 to 2018. A similar jurisdiction, Hamilton receives $36.59 per capita in CHPI funding. Windsor receives $26.83 per capita. The Niagara Region receives just $17.52 per capita.

Current estimates show that Niagara receives between $2.5 million to $4 million less in annual CHPI funding allocations compared to other regions with a similar population, core-housing need and other objective indicators. Local elected officials estimate that the Niagara Region had been shorted by since its implementation.

These statistics and the longstanding issue with the CHPI are outlined in the Niagara Region’s 2019 AMO Briefing and has been brought to the attention of the an upwards $20 million in CHPI funding in the seven years previous Liberal government on several occasions.   

Minister, we are calling on you to fix an issue that the Liberals created and is now getting even worse.   Each year this problem persists, the region is unable to meet the growing demand to assist those facing housing insecurity adequately. What is needed is a funding model that matches local demand for homelessness services and ensures equitable allocation.    

We would like to invite you to come to Niagara to meet with municipal officials and community leaders who have been raising this issue for some time.  

Regards, Jennie StevensW ayne Gates Jeff Burch MPP, Niagara Falls MPP, St. Catharines MPP, Niagara Centre Wayne Gates MPP, Niagara Falls

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