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Social Housing (Ontario) Legal Guide
(23 November 2021)

Ch.2 - Overview of Part V


  1. Overview
  2. Part V Program Categories
    (a) What Are Part V Housing Projects?
    (b) Part V Program Categories
  3. Municipal and District Service Levels
    (a) Overview
    (b) The Minimum 'Service Level' Number of Units

1. Overview

As is obvious throughout this Social Housing (Ontario) Legal Guide advocating for social housing tenants in Ontario is initially the often-daunting task of locating 'just where' in the complex social housing world you or your client stands. But, the odds are that you or your client are part of a 'Part V' household, because the Housing Services Act, 2011 (HSA) is overwhelmingly devoted to the structure and operation of RGI (rent-geared-to-income) system of these Part V housing projects.

Part V housing projects [HSA 38-67; Genl Reg 17-85.2] are much of the essence of the social housing reform brought about initially under the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 (SHRA), the purpose of which was primarily a consolidation of most of the social housing within Ontario - whether of federal, provincial, municipal or non-profit origin. Now, under the HSA, Part V housing projects are provincially-administered, and either municipally or non-profit-operated housing projects.

That said, technically Part V housing projects are only part of what are referred to as 'transferred housing programs' (also 'designated housing projects') [for the full list see Reg 368/11: "Designated Housing Projects s.68 of the Act"] - though they are by far the largest part of not only the s.68 projects, but of all Ontario's social housing projects.

The result is a very difficult system to understand - with the HSA system attempting to impose some order on the local housing projects below while also still trying to respect the autonomy of the local municipal governments and non-profit corporations. The result has been an intricate (and often poorly legislatively-drafted) collection of rules (ie. the HSA and it's Regulations), local (service manager) rules (resulting in some 47 different rule-sets), non-profit by-laws and articles - and even 'rules about rules', which attempt to divide the jurisdictional authority between them all.

But back to Part V housing projects. The Part V HSA (and it's related regulations) deal with these housing projects primarily from an RGI implementation perspective, with the added themes of 'special needs' (ie. physically-handicapped) and 'special-priority' (abused and human-trafficked) [HSA 39(1), Genl Reg 18)].

RGI or “rent-geared-to-income assistance” means financial assistance provided in respect of a household to reduce the amount the household must otherwise pay to occupy a unit" [HSA 38 defns]. 'Special needs housing' means housing intended for use by a household with one or more members who require accessibility modifications or provincially funded support services in order to live independently in the community [HSA 38 defns]. I'll address 'special priority' more in Chapter 6.

All of these social housing forms are hugely influenced with the (bizarre but sadly necessary) legal recognition and addressing of the fact that social housing is far, far under-supplied - even according to it's own eligibility criteria, which results in huge, multi-year long waiting lists. The existence of waiting lists (some over 10 years in duration), normally an unfortunate and temporary aspect of under-funding in other fields, are in the social housing legal world the rule, not the exception. I have never seem the phenomenon of service-delivery inadequacy raised to such an institutional level before that it requires express and extensive laws to address it.


2. Part V Program Categories

(a) What Are Part V Housing Projects?

Due to the fact that the Ontario social system is an amalgamation of mostly pre-existing housing projects, the different categories of housing are not legislatively defined in the normal sense of defining their essential characteristics - rather they are just 'listed' (throughout the HSA legislation). This feature of the system is the cause of much confusion as the lists are scattered and piecemeal thoughout the HSA [and as well in the related, but essential, Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA)].

In this respect the normal legislative-drafting technique of stating the law in as brief a manner as possible fails the equally important task of communicating that law to those who must use it (in this case mostly non-lawyers, though lawyers are sorely-challenged as well).

This is the 'location' task I've referred to earlier [s.1, above], and - for Part V housing projects - it starts with the municipally-organized Reg 368/11 [Designated Housing Projects - Section 68 of the Act] [HSA s.2 "designated housing projects", 68]. I encourage readers to review it now if you haven't already (it's huge).

The housing projects listed in Reg 368/11 are all of the 'designated housing projects' under the HSA, but only some of these are Part V housing projects. Part V projects are those listed (by municipalities and districts) under the program categories of 1(a), 1(b), 2(a), 2(b), 6(a) or 6(b) [more on this below].

(b) Part V Program Categories

For the larger historical perspective, the [HSA General Reg 367/11, Schedule 1] sets out the historical 'program categories' which Part V housing projects originated under (before the social housing reform under the SHRA in 2000), as follows:
  • Public Housing

    . Program Category Number 1(a)

    The public housing programs administered before January 1, 2001 by Local Housing Authorities for the object of providing appropriate housing exclusively to applicants selected on the basis of being financially unable to obtain affordable, suitable and adequate housing on the private market, as determined by Ontario, in housing projects that immediately before January 1, 2001 were owned or leased by the Ontario Housing Corporation or jointly by the Ontario Housing Corporation and the CMHC.

    . Program Category Number 1(b)

    The public housing program administered before January 1, 2001 by the Ministry for the object of providing appropriate housing exclusively to applicants selected on the basis of being financially unable to obtain affordable, suitable and adequate housing on the private market, as determined by Ontario, in housing projects that immediately before January 1, 2001 were owned or leased by the Toronto Housing Company.

  • Rent Supplement

    . Program Category Number 2(a)

    All Rent Supplement Programs administered before January 1, 2001 by Local Housing Authorities or the Ministry that are not included in paragraph 4, including the following:

    i. Rent Supplement — Regular.
    ii. Accelerated Rental CMHC.
    iii. Accelerated Rental OMC.
    iv. Community Integrated.
    v. Assisted Rentals.
    vi. Limited Dividend.
    vii. Private Assisted Rental.
    viii. Ontario Rental Construction Plan.
    ix. Canada Rental Supply Plan.
    x. Convert-to-rent.
    xi. Canada Ontario Rental Supply Plan.
    xii. Renterprise.
    xiii. Low Rise Rehabilitation.
    xiv. Ontario Rental Construction Loan.
    xv. Assisted Rental Housing.
    xvi. Ontario Accelerated Family Rental Housing.

    . Program Category Number 2(b)

    With respect to units in projects owned, leased or administered by non-profit housing providers, the Rent Supplement Programs administered before January 1, 2001 by the Ministry that are not specifically listed in paragraph 3, including the following programs:

    i. Community Sponsored Housing Program (1978-1985).
    ii. Community Sponsored Housing Program (P2500) (1978-1985).
    iii. Ontario Community Housing Assistance Program (1978-1985).

  • Non-Profit Full Assistance

    . Program Category Number 6(a)

    With respect to non-profit housing providers other than non-profit housing co-operatives, the Non-Profit Full Assistance Housing Programs administered before January 1, 2001 by the Ministry, not including the Municipal Non-Profit Housing Program, but including the following:

    i. jobsOntario Homes.
    ii. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-3,000).
    iii. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-3,600).
    iv. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-10,000).
    v. Homes Now.
    vi. Federal/Provincial Non-Profit Housing Program (1986-1993).

    . Program Category Number 6(b)

    With respect to non-profit housing co-operatives, the Non-Profit Full Assistance Housing Programs administered before January 1, 2001 by the Ministry, not including the Municipal Non-Profit Housing Program, but including the following:

    i. jobsOntario Homes.
    ii. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-3,000).
    iii. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-3,600).
    iv. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Program (P-10,000).
    v. Homes Now.
    vi. Federal/Provincial Non-Profit Housing Program (1986-1993).

3. Municipal and District Service Levels

(a) Overview

Service levels can be thought of as the municipality's mandatory quota for social housing. But first some background.

'Service areas' are the geographic jurisdiction of a 'service manager'. 'Service managers' (though deceptively named to sound like an administrative staff position) are simple one of the 47 Ontario municipalities or districts that administers - for the most part - the social housing system. In other words, the 'service manager' is, legally identical to the local municipality or district where your Part V housing project is located. 'Service manager' is the social housing term for the administering local municipality.

'Service levels' are the 'minimum level' of RGI units that a service manager should have, both 'regular' RGI [HSA 40] and special needs [HSA 41].

Additionally, these service levels come in two forms defined by degree of need: 'high need' households and 'affordable' households. 'High need' is where the household's income is "less than or equal to the maximum annual household income ... for the size of unit the household occupies and the area where the unit is located" [in Schedule 1 of Reg 370/11 [Reg 370/11, s.1] (these income levels are set out in a chart in the Schedule). 'Affordable' is where the "household income limit for a household is the annual household income limit ... for the size of unit the household occupies and the area where the unit is located" [in Schedule 2 of Reg 370/11 [Reg 370/11, s.2] (again, these income limits are set out in a chart in the Schedule).

(b) The Minimum 'Service Level' Number of Units

. Minimums

Sub-section (a) sets out the household income limits which define 'high need' and 'affordable' thresholds. Now for the minimum service levels.

Typical with the confusion that abounds in the HSA legislative regime, the full details of this 'service level' arrangement are spread across the HSA Act [HSA 40-41], the General Regulation [ss.19-22 and Schedules 4 and 4.1 (which is huge)], and the full Reg 370/11 with two large tables.

First the basic 'service level' duties are set out in the Act, requiring that each service area have a minimum number of (a) 'affordable' (ie. "households whose income is no greater than the household income limit") and (b) 'high needs' units [HSA 40(1,4)]. Also, in keeping with the Part V mandate of 'special needs' handicapped units, minimums are also set out for 'modified units' [a "modified unit” means a unit that has been modified so as to be accessible to an individual with a physical disability or so as to allow an individual with a physical disability to live independently"] [HSA 41(1-2), Gen Reg 21].

The specific minimum unit numbers are set out for all 47 service areas in HSA Gen Reg, Schedule 4, for each of the categories [affordable, high needs and modified] [Gen Reg 19,22].

. Which s.68 Categories Count (and do not Count) for the Minimums

It may redundant [ie. Part V only applying to s.68 categories 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 6A and 6B], but the HSA continues to make clear that housing projects in transferred housing programs with category numbers 3,4,5,7 and 8 - ie. all the categories, [other than 6(c)] that HSA Part V does not apply to - may not be counted for these minimum levels [HSA 40(2), Genl Reg 20].

However (in an exception to an unnecessary exception) if a household receives RGI "in accordance with the scheme set out in this Part" (ie. similar to that in Part V)", then it may still be counted towards the minimum service levels [HSA 40(3)]. This is a useful point that makes the point that not all RGI assistance are governed by Part V.

. Alternative Forms of Financial Assistance Which Count for the Minimums

As well, even if the household does not receive RGI assistance, but does receives an alternate form of financial assistance as a monthly benefit [under HSA Gen Reg, Schedule 4.1 then that household 'counts' towards the minimum service level duties [HSA 40(3.1), Gen Reg 1(1), 20.1]. This, primarily, refers to the recent Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) [I've linked this City of Toronto webpage as it is better than any provincial version I could find].

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