Around this time last year, David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation in England, took the stage at the 2017 ONPHA Conference and imparted this advice:
“Don’t try to predict the future. Create the future.”
His words resonated deeply with us as community housing providers sitting on the cusp of change and modernization.
Fast forward to today and we are celebrating our 30th year as your sector association. It’s the perfect moment to reflect on where we’ve come from, where we are, and take David Orr’s advice to create the future we want to see.
They say you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. As we look back on 30 years we should feel proud of what we’ve accomplished. Today ONPHA members provide over 400,000 Ontarians with a safe, affordable place to call home. Together with our members and partners, we’ve contributed to securing over $4 billion in additional investment in affordable housing over the past 15 years.
Our collective advocacy efforts have helped focus the government’s attention on a housing stability lens, and today we’re seeing investment in community housing that has not existed in over 20 years.
At the same time, we’ve been challenged with expiring operating agreements and end of mortgages, which have pushed us to get creative and even reinvent our models. With all of the recent changes, we know your work isn’t getting any easier. The business of community housing is becoming increasingly complex. So this year we asked a lot of questions and are moving into the future in a strategic and thoughtful way.
As the sector modernizes
, so are we. Over the past year we have been moving towards a new membership fee structure that leaves behind outdated programs and brings us into the future. We also began rolling out changes to the Best Deals programs to deliver more value to members, and we’re offering fresh professional development opportunities to help prepare us for what’s next.
During times of transformation we that know a spirit of collaboration is key. That’s why this year we’ve been working closely with our sector partners to align our priorities and advocate with a strong, united voice. Together with our partner the Cooperative Housing Federation (Ontario Region) we presented a fully-costed affordable housing plan for Ontario. The Plan set targets to build 69,000 new affordable units, deliver income supports to 311,000 Canadian households, extend the life of 260,000 community-owned rental homes and create 30,000 new supportive housing units over the next 10 years. It’s an ambitious plan, but with renewed commitments from the government and a spotlight on affordable housing, meeting these targets has never been more possible. Together, we can get there.
In our 30th year we have unprecedented opportunities in front of us. My advice to you is to continue to be flexible and open, and take advantage of this moment to build the kind of businesses our changing communities need. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in this new era of community housing.
Ami Patel, President, ONPHA