Addressing the housing crisis in Ontario
There is a housing crisis confronting Ontarians with developmental disabilities – and it is a crisis that has been growing steadily more serious for at least twenty years. This is one of the opening sentences in a report released last week.
The report, Generating Ideas and Enabling Action: Addressing the Housing Crisis Confronting Ontario Adults with Developmental Disabilities, comes after a four year study and intensive consultation with a variety of stakeholders across Ontario. Established by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in 2014, the Ontario Developmental Services Housing Task Force is a volunteer-based group. During the study, members met with community service agencies, people who have an intellectual disability and their families, direct service providers, policy experts and researchers.
The report makes 13 recommendations that focus on funding initiatives, sustaining affordable housing, progressive research and policy review. These recommendations were inspired by an analysis of 18 innovative housing solution projects undertaken throughout the province.
“There is so much energy and willingness to bring creative change in communities, we learned so much from this study” said Ron Pruessen, a professor in the Department of History of the University of Toronto and Chair of the Ontario Developmental Services Housing Task Force. Pruessen said partnerships between individuals, all level of governments, family networks and services providers are key in addressing the crisis.
That is why the task force recommends cross-ministerial, cross-regional and cross-sectorial collaboration to ensure the housing crisis is addressed in all its complexity. The goal is to encourage knowledge transfer, resource sharing, and resource expansion. The report also states that continual research and engagement with advocates is important. This includes looking at what other sectors, provinces and countries are doing to identify specific innovations and successes that can be applied to the developmental disability sector.
Community Living Ontario is pleased to see several recommendations focus on increasing and sustaining individualized supports. We strongly support the adoption of an innovative two-track ten-year budget plan with funding to sustain and augment individualized supports for people who have a developmental disability. We also support the task force’s recommendation to increase flexibility in support funding to include residential options and the availability of a dedicated independent third-party resource to assist people and their families in the creation of a customized housing plan.
Mr. Pruessen says that the task force understands that change takes time and sees the publication of their report as the beginning of a new stage of work for both Housing Task Force members and the broader community that has been so supportive of its efforts.
Community Living Ontario looks forward to the government’s response to the report and is committed to working with all stakeholders to help realise the report’s recommendations.