For more than 25 years, the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) has united the social housing sector in Ontario. The Association was created as a way to foster communication between diverse housing organizations and to present a unified public voice when speaking up for social housing.
The need for a housing association arose in the mid-1980s when the provincial government expressed interest in developing a new non-profit housing program, and looked to the sector for input. This consultation process shined light on a diverse housing system, in which many municipals housing corporations and private non-profits wanted to have their say on the program. It soon became overwhelming to coordinate a response that reflected the entire sector.
Several professionals in the housing sector, including staff at the Region of Peel, began exploring a new way to work together. They agreed an association for social housing providers could improve the sector’s communication and government relations. The proposed association was originally intended only for municipally-run organization, however the idea quickly gained traction with private non-profit housing providers as well.
On September 23, 1988, the details of the new association were formulated at a municipal non-profit housing conference in Thunder Bay. The conference delegates agreed that the newly formed association was to include private non-profits as well as municipal corporations. Uniting these two groups was a significant step forward for the housing sector, as it became the first time the two separate functions collaborated on shared goals.
One year later, ONPHA had grown to over 200 members, with more applications for membership arriving every day. Members included a range of housing providers--large and small, urban and rural-- from across Ontario.
After 25 years of service, ONPHA’s membership continues to grow as we adapt our business to the non-profit housing sector’s evolving needs. Today, ONPHA provides its members through communications, education, networking events, an annual conference and member support. We also support the cause of affordable housing through research reports, advocacy campaigns, and working relationships with all levels of government.