President’s Message

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 Over the past year we have been moving towards a new membership fee structure that leaves behind outdated programs and brings us into the future.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

Establishing a Shared Line of Sight

In 2017, ONPHA introduced a brand new, ongoing event series that brings together members and sector influencers to explore trends, drivers and critical uncertainties in our sector.

So far, ONPHA’s Signature Leadership Series has consisted of three key events, including an event in Ottawa ahead of the CHRA congress which allowed us to align ourselves with sector partners and dialogue around what the National Housing Strategy means for our sector.

This series is helping to elevate our collective voice, look towards a modernized future and establish a shared line of sight as we head in to a new era of community housing.

We Shone a Spotlight on Affordable Housing

With funding flowing from Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy, significant provincial contributions to build on, and municipalities eager to support the supply of affordable housing, we are in a time of great opportunity. We know that the community housing sector has a critical role to play in helping Ontarians find and secure a safe, affordable place to call home. In order to truly make the most of this time of opportunity, we are driving home the case for investment in community housing.

In 2017 and 2018, ONPHA worked closely with our partners to ensure our recommendations were at the forefront, and that our members’ realities were brought to the table.  Now, more than ever, the spotlight is on affordable housing. As we move into a federal election year, we remain committed to continuing the conversation and advancing our shared priorities

A National Conversation: 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index

In spring of 2018, ONPHA teamed up with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and other partners across the country to launch the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index. The Index is a first-of-its-kind resource that provides a snapshot of rental housing costs, renter income, affordability and overcrowding in almost all communities, regions, provinces and territories. In our Ontario context, the data shows our province is facing some of the most severe housing challenges.

In a time when over 40% of Canadians are spending more than 30% of their income on rent, the Index is a key tool that is helping us elevate our voices and drive this issue home for Canadians. The updated data illuminates housing needs down to the riding level, casting a bright spotlight on the problems facing far too many Canadians today.

Solving the Affordable Housing Crisis

On the heels of 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index launch, ONPHA and the Cooperative Housing Federation (Ontario Region) responded to the troubling data with a bold, 10-year plan to achieve a brighter housing future for Ontarians.

The Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario is a fully-costed roadmap that sets measurable targets to ensure quality, affordable housing is there for families and those who need it. We’re ready to work with all levels of government to deliver on four key recommendations, which include:
  • Building 69,000 new rental homes over the next 10 years
  • Deliver income supports to 311,000 Ontarian households
  • Extend the life of 260,000 community-owned rental homes
  • Create 30,000 new supportive housing units over the next 10 years for individuals with mental health and additions issues, and end chronic homelessness
In 2018 and beyond we will continue to work towards our targets and call on the government to join us as we aim to solve Ontario’s housing challenges and move our sector into the future.

Election Advocacy: #Vote4Housing

ONPHA’s provincial election campaign built on the momentum from the updated Rental Housing Index and the release of our Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario.

We called on our provincial government to:

  • Make the National Housing Strategy work for Ontario
  • Address affordable housing gaps for the long-term
  • Make it easier for housing providers to meet the needs of their communities
  • Use new housing tax revenues to solve housing problems
  • Support Ontario’s most vulnerable
Our calls to action were shared widely through our successful social media campaign #Vote4Housing. People from across Ontario shared our messages and told us why they were voting for affordable housing.

ONPHA members were also equipped with the right information and advocacy tools through our online suite of resources. The suite included ONPHA’s election key messages, an election toolkit, messages and graphics to share on social media, as well as customizable templates to guide those who were writing to their candidates.

Growing our Online Presence

Our sector is constantly evolving and we’re seeing new announcements coming from our governments all the time. Following ONPHA’s communication channels is a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening. Our bi-weekly e-Alerts, blog posts and Board Connections newsletters ensure members are receiving all the need-to-know information in a timely manner. We’re continuing to move towards online formats with content that is shareable, easy to access and socially responsible.

Over the past several years, ONPHA has continued to grow our online presence. We’ve seen our social media following rise, and we’re fostering our platforms as effective advocacy tools to drive home why affordable housing is the foundation for successful communities.

We Invested in People and Collaboration

We want to secure a strong future for our members and the sector, and we know that a spirit of collaboration is the key to transformation. We’re stronger together. This means ensuring ONPHA members have access to networking opportunities and that their voices are being represented at decision-making tables. It also means strengthening our sector partnerships and aligning our priorities so we can speak into issues with a strong, united voice.

Aligning our Priorities

We’ve got the capacity and flexibility to respond to policy issues as they develop, and we are bringing members’ concerns and everyday realities to the table. This past year, we met with key players in the sector and delivered submissions on issues that were top-of-mind for housing providers, including: inclusionary zoning, Ontario’s standard lease, the proposed Portable Housing Benefit framework, The National Housing Co-Investment Fund, the federal and provincial budgets and more.

2017 ONPHA Conference and Trade Show

Every year ONPHA hosts the largest conference of its kind in Canada. In 2017, we welcomed more than 1,100 community housing professionals to Niagara Falls for a weekend of conversation, collaboration and celebration. Delegates learned from and engaged with world thought leaders and some of the sector’s most innovative and knowledgeable experts.

Our theme – Shaping our Future – built on the momentum of the game-changing announcements from the past year. The result was a weekend full of positive energy and buzz.

Celebrating Excellence

Ontario housing providers’ work has the power to change lives and build the foundation for strong, vibrant communities – and that’s something worth celebrating. In 2017, we recognized the achievements of outstanding organizations, individuals and teams that contribute to the vibrancy of the non-profit housing sector.

2017 Regional Meetings

Each spring, ONPHA hits the road and hosts Regional Meetings in communities across Ontario. These one-day forums give members an opportunity to receive training and key updates and connect with sector colleagues in their area.

In 2017, more than 650 members joined us. We dove into discussions around what the National Housing Strategy will mean for our sector, updates from the Province and how to get ready for the provincial election.

Learning and Growing Together

The business of community housing is changing, and the work of housing providers’ isn’t getting any easier. ONPHA’s suite of learning opportunities helps prepare members to meet the changing and complex demands in managing high-quality, sustainable, tenant-focused housing. Today, we have over 200 online resources available for members.

In 2017, we offered fresh learning and professional development opportunities based on what members told us they needed. From online and in-person courses, to delivering on-demand training, we’ve been busy helping members get what they need to be successful.

We’re Securing a Bright Future

The sector is modernizing, which means ONPHA must also modernize. This past year we’ve been working on making changes that will increase membership value and help secure a bright future for our sector.

Expanding the Best Deals Program

ONPHA’s Best Deals Bulk Purchasing Program is one of the many ways ONPHA works to make sure its members are able to meet all of the challenges of running excellent, affordable housing.

The program has benefited members for more than 20 years and there is potential for continued value and growth. So in 2017, we launched and completed a full review of the program. We consulted with members who told us that the program was working well for some small providers, but that it wasn’t meeting the needs for large providers. We also heard that some regions need greater access to the deals.

In 2018, the board approved the hire of a new staff person to join the team and manage the Best Deals Program. The implementation plan for the expansion of the program was also approved, and we are continuing to roll out changes to the program to bring more value to members.

Modernizing our Membership Fee Structure

The sector is changing, and we’ve heard from members that ONPHA’s current fee structure no longer reflects the realities of how they operate their businesses today. In 2017, we began a thorough process to explore a new, fairer model that will standardize fees based on unit bands for all members and offer them the choice of the benefits they want and need. Modernizing our fee model will also mean that ONPHA can offer new lines of business to better serve our membership into the future.

Thank you to our sponsors


Enbridge Gas DistributionYardi