MEMBER UPDATE: March 24, 1:30PM
Advocating for our Members during COVID-19
Dear ONPHA Members,
As we all strive to keep people and communities safe through the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we recognize the critical role that community housing providers play in supporting those who will be most impacted by the virus, including low/limited-income individuals/families, seniors, Indigenous peoples, newcomers and tenants requiring support services. Now more than ever, the need for adequate, affordable housing that meets the needs of our communities is paramount. Current events have highlighted the inextricable link between health and housing.
As such, ONPHA is continuing to advocate on behalf of the community housing sector to ensure its sustainability and the ongoing provision of safe and affordable housing. We are also creating and sharing new, responsive tools and resources for the sector to navigate these unprecedented challenges, while promoting community-based responses and sharing best practices.
How ONPHA is advocating
ONPHA supports the investments and commitments already made by the provincial and federal governments to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and support people and communities. However, we know that more support is needed to protect those at highest risk to the virus and those on the frontlines who continue to provide crucial support services, including safe and affordable housing.
We have sent Premier Ford, Prime Minister Trudeau and several of their Cabinet Ministers letters with key recommendations, the highlights of which include to:
- Establish an emergency stabilization fund for the community housing sector to provide direct and immediate financial assistance to the community housing system to offset losses incurred as a result of tenants’ inability to pay rent and/or utility fees.
- Provide necessary equipment, materials, supplies and personnel for personal hygiene, disinfection, cleaning and other containment measures (i.e., masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, immediate access to healthcare providers) to community housing providers in a timely manner, especially those serving populations more likely to be at high risk, including seniors, Indigenous peoples, newcomers and tenants requiring support services.
- Immediately implement and communicate flexibility measures around current funding agreements and reporting requirements for community housing providers to minimize additional work (i.e., extending existing agreements with pending expiration dates, suspending reporting requirements to shift focus to front line services).
- Accelerate the finalization of Canada Housing Benefit agreements with each province and implement them as soon as possible, as another income security measure.
- Repurpose surplus federal buildings for emergency housing purposes, with an intent to eventually turn those structures over to non-profit housing providers to support long-term housing needs.
- Increase funding to provinces, territories and municipalities for homelessness services and housing, including emergency funds for rent banks, expansion of shelters, housing and supports and medical personnel in shelters, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical equipment for safe and sanitary site maintenance.
For the full list of ONPHA’s recommendations, read our letters to Premier Ford and Prime Minister Trudeau.
What you can do
Advocate on behalf of your organization and our sector by:
- Writing a letter to your MPP and MP to discuss the needs and challenges facing your organizations and communities.
- Sharing ONPHA’s and/or your organization’s recommendations for the Governments of Ontario and Canada through your website and social media channels.
- Sharing your thoughts, questions and concerns with us so we can amplify and advocate alongside you.
We take comfort in the fact that people and communities are coming together to support each other during this time. Please continue to monitor our COVID-19 information page, which is updated regularly to keep you informed, and reach out to us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONPHA COVID 19 Advocacy Response to the Government of Canada
ONPHA COVID 19 Advocacy Response to the Government of Ontario