NRH 2015 Annual Report

Message from our Chair

We've Come a Long Way

Founded in 2002, NRH has come a long way in administering, providing and advocating for affordable housing in Niagara. Since the financial crisis a decade ago, Niagara has faced an economic downturn and the resultant social pressures that increase demand for affordable housing. NRH responded with creative policies and diverse housing options for those in need of assistance.

We now offer housing allowances in private buildings, homeownership assistance, a homeowner repair and secondar ysuites program and recently opened two communities – Broadoak in Niagara Falls and Birchwood Place (Fitch East) in Welland. Both of these communities are energy-efficient and financially sustainable with rents and other revenues covering operating costs. The lessons learned from these developments have NRH well-positioned to guide future builds to even further success while continuing to be true to our mission to “expand opportunities that make affordable housing an integral part of building healthy and sustainable communities in Niagara”.

However, we must still confront the realities of an ever expanding wait list, the end of operating agreements of existing Social Housing units, accommodating a higher number of high-need tenants, and the condition of our aging facilities. I believe that NRH is on course to create solutions to these housing challenges that build on a combination of past success, new developments and new partnerships.

With this in mind, I would like to welcome NRH’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ellen Balmain, who took the helm in February, 2015 with a fresh vision for the future. As the new Chair of the NRH Board, I look forward to working with Ellen and NRH Staff to embrace our challenges and explore every possible option to address the evolving needs of those we serve.

—Paul Grenier | Chair

"The construction of Broadoak and Fitch were largely funded by senior government grants, plus mortgage loans that are paid for via tenant rents. As a result, the Region now owns an additional $22.6 million in assets with a modest capital contribution of approximately $1.1 million for both projects"

—Value For Money Audit of Broadoak and Fitch Housing Projects, MNP, 2015

NRH Overview

Housing Services Act, 2011 Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
  • Community-based planning and delivery of housing services with provincial oversight
  • Requirements for eligibility for (RGI) housing, RGI calculations and wait lists
  • Outlines requirements for housing and homelessness plans
  • Governs relationships between landlords and residential tenants
  • Protects tenant from unlawful eviction

There are over 74 pieces of legislation, regulations and Acts that govern NRH's work.


CEO's Office

Housing Operations

Housing Programs

Community Resouces
  • Oversees the operations, management and administration of the NRH corporation
  • Asset management
  • Residential landlord
  • Property management
  • Housing Access Centre
  • Non-Profit/Cooperative Providers
  • Rent supplement
  • Housing allowance
  • Oversees the implementation of Social Housing Programs
  • Eviction prevention
  • Community programs
  • Communications

Other NRH Responsibilities

  • Maintains NRH assets to ensure they are safe and in good repair
  • Acts as a residential landlord for 2757 households
  • Screens applicants, maintains waitlist and ensures fair access to RGI housing
  • 348 agreements with 175 landlords (74 Rent Sup, 101 Housing Allowance) for 662 units (408 Rent Sup, 24 IAH-E, 230 Strong Communities)
  • Supports over 385 waitlist households with temporary housing allowance
  • Resolves issues and prevents eviction for over 400 complex-need tenants annually
  • Engages tenants with clear and accurate information
  • Approximately 20,500 people are housed through NRH programs and services

NRH in Action in 2015

Over 4600 households waited for affordable housing on the NRH Centralized Waiting List. This means 10,200 people who do not have the security of a home from which they can raise families, go to school, find employment and age peacefully.

This is a 34% increase from 2002.

  • Social Housing – 66 Social Housing Providers (nonprofit and co-operatives) provide mixed income communities to more than 8,000 tenant members in 11 municipalities.
    • In Social Housing*, 75% of households pay Rent-Geared-to Income (RGI), while the remaining 25% pay market rent.
    • *This does not apply to the former Federal Non-Profits

  • Public Housing – Niagara’s Public Housing communities were built more than 40 years ago, so they require considerable maintenance:
    • In 2015, over 10,000 work orders for maintenance and repairs
    • In 2015, $2,500,000 in capital work
  • Niagara Renovates – helps low income households stay in their own homes through assistance with major repairs and the creation of secondary suites
    • 60 Projects Completed in 2015
    • Homeowner - 54
    • Secondary Suites - 1
    • Multi-units - 5

NRH’s Birchwood Place (“Fitch East”) Seniors community in Welland received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, an international mark of excellence for energy-efficient and environmentally responsible building.

Fitch East also received more than $1.2 million funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund in recognition of the community’s commitment to the environment through reduced energy consumption, water consumption and waste, access to public transportation and solar-ready roof.

Unemployment, underemployment and the stressors of struggling to make ends meet increases the likelihood of family breakdown, physical and mental health issues and addiction, which in turn affects employability and strains the social welfare and health systems. In 2015, NRH partnered with more than 40 community agencies to offer more than 200 programs, services and events to help counteract these negative effects of poverty in low income communities.

Our Challenges

There are a number of pressures affecting affordable housing across the housing sector and NRH in particular, including:

  • Local Employment Trends
    • The decline of the manufacturing sector and increased reliance on service industries has resulted in lower wages and less secure employment. This means that more residents need affordable housing and those already in affordable housing stay longer. According to Statistics Canada, across all household types the median income in Niagara ($68,410) is lower than the provincial median ($74,890). With a relatively finite number of affordable housing communities and reduced unit turnover, NRH must be innovative to address increasing demand for affordable housing.
  • Increasing Senior Population Aging at Home
    • According to the Niagara Growth Management Strategy 2014, between 2011 and 2013 seniors 65 years and older will account for 60 percent of the population growth in Niagara. The increase in the senior’s populations is the result of an aging baby boomers and the migration of individuals 55 + from surrounding regions who have decided to retire in Niagara. The combination of greater longevity and the provincial Aging At Home Strategy designed to delay long-term care has resulted in reduced turnover in senior units and more accessibility and physical and cognitive support needs among senior tenants, which further strains NRH’s financial and staff resources.
  • More Vulnerable Tenants
    • People living in prolonged poverty are more likely to suffer from mental health, addiction and social issues. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association in Ontario, one in five Ontarians experience mental illness in any given year. 35% of Ontario Disability Support (ODSP) clients have a mental illness and 21% of individuals with disabilities live in poverty. Though the trauma of waiting for stable housing is over, Social Housing tenants continue to confront the stress of living in poverty, so supports and connections to appropriate services are critical to ensure that tenants are able to live stable lives and maintain their tenancies successfully.
  • End of Operating Agreements
    • "End of operating agreements" refers to both the expiry of Social Housing provider operating agreements and the expiry of federal/provincial and provincial mortgages under the Housing Services Act (HSA). By 2030 all of the 66 Social Housing Providers in Niagara will have reached the end of their operating agreements. These providers support more 4,000 households with affordable housing, including seniors, singles and families with dependents. To mitigate the pending loss of RGI units, NRH is working closely with providers as they near the end of operating agreements to preserve the existing social housing assets, to ensure that the housing remains affordable and to develop opportunities for expansion of the affordable housing supply. It is our goal to ensure that Social Housing providers remain financially viable and that local Service Levels standards are met.
  • Aging Stock
    • Most of Niagara’s Public and Social Housing communities are more than 40 years old. Older facilities tend to be poorly insulated, less energy-efficient and lack accessibility modifications which increase the cost of building operation and maintenance, (repair costs). To meet our obligations, NRH is working to keep our communities in good repair and implementing innovations to improve energy efficiency. This is considerably more costly with aged buildings that are approaching their life cycle and require major capital work to sustain their value.

How We Adapt to New Challenges

The Evolution of Affordable Housing in Niagara

NRH Then 2002 Numbers NRH Now 2015 Numbers
Housing Access
(Applicants processed)
2,352 applicants
(4,233 individuals)
Housing Access 2,178 applicants
(4,004 individuals)
Public Housing
(Rent-Geared-to-Income or RGI)
4,800 individual tenants Public Housing 5,000 individual tenants
Social Housing
(Non-Profits and Co-operatives)
8,000 tenant/members Social Housing Social Housing 8,000 tenant/members
Rent Supplement
(RGI in private buildings)
580 tenants Rent Supplement 720 tenants
Housing Allowance
(temporary Rent Supplements)
471 tenants
Welcome Home Niagara
(down payment assistance)
277 new homeowners
Niagara Renovates
(assistance with home repairs, accessibility modifications and secondary suites)
60 homeowners assisted
Housing First
(for homeless individuals)
190 families/individuals
Affordable Housing Development 954 individuals
(530 units)

*The Census Canada multiplier of 2.6 was used where actual numbers of individuals per unit was not available

In 2015, the NRH Board was pleased to issue Request for Proposals for more than $3 million in Investment in Affordable Housing Extension (IAH-E) funds for new affordable housing units. With rents set at 80% of market rent, these developments will add much-needed rental housing to Niagara. They will also create local employment, as it is estimated that every one unit of housing development generates two new jobs.

Agency Funding Number of Units
Gateway Residential & Community Support Services $720,000 9
Thorold Municipal Non-Profit (TMNPHC) $1,228,912 14
Stamford Kiwanis Non-profit Homes Inc. $1,089,088 17
Total $3,038,000 40

"Working to find solutions to the problem of affordable housing is also smart economic policy. An inadequate supply of housing can be a major impediment to business investment and growth, and can influence immigrants’ choices of where to locate."

—TD Bank Financial Group, 2003

Helping Those Who Need It Most

With more than 4600 households on the Centralized Waiting List, the shortage of affordable housing has long been urgent in Niagara. In order to house as many applicants as possible, in the fall of 2015 NRH began enforcing 100% Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Public Housing in Niagara. Tenants who were no longer eligible for subsidy were notified that they needed to requalify or vacate to make the unit available for applicants on the Centralized Waiting List. This included tenants who no longer needed subsidies, those who were “overhoused” (ie. too many bedrooms for the number of people living in the unit), and those who failed to provide legislated information. Supports, accommodations and exemptions were made for frail, elderly and infirm tenants. 41 additional households on the Centralized Waiting List were housed in 2015 as a result of this process, which also clarified the rules for existing Public Housing tenants.

"Housing directly affects the health of children and youth, including achieve lifegoals"

—Canadian Paedatric Society, 2015

Fitch Remembrance Day Flag Raising

2015 NRH Board Chair Shirley Cordiner welcomed Mr. Peter Comar, a 91 year old veteran of WWII and tenant of NRH.

My Comar led the charge to raise the Canadian flag at Birchwood Place(“Fitch East”) in Welland.

NRH has more than 1,900 seniors living in Public Housing communities across Niagara.

Defining Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing:

In it's broadest definition, is used to describe many forms of assistance with housing, including Public Housing, Social Housing (Non-profits and Co-operatives) and Social Housing Programs (ex. Rent Supplements in private buildings and other assistance for households with low incomes.)

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI:)

Rent set at 30% of gross household income.

Affordable Rent:

Rent set at 80% of area market rent

Market Rent:

Rent set according to the local market.

Social Assistance Rent Scales:

Shelter portion of rent for households on Social Assistance (ex. Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program.)

Centralized Waiting List:

The waiting list that NRH uses to provide affordable housing in more than 180 properties across the region. Applicants are offered housing in order thet applied, unless they qualify for priority status. See for more information.

2015 Expenses

2015 Revenues

NRH Community

Social Club Potluck
Social Club Potluck,
Portage Road, Niagara Falls
Halloween Party
Halloween Party,
Old Pine Trail, St. Catharines
McLaughlin Block Party
McLaughlin Block Party,
McLaughlin Street, Welland

After School Program Art

Art: Lily
Art: Lily
Art: Sherifa
Art: Sherifa
Art: Jekyri
Art: Jekyri
Art: Bahar
Art: Bahar
Art: Jena
Art: Jena
Art: Kateona
Art: Kateona

Thank You to Our Board

NRH Board

Back - Left to Right: Walter Sendzik, Ken Goka, Andrew Petrowski, Paul Grenier (Chair), Kelly Kendrick, Henry D’Angela, James Hyatt

Front - Left to Right: Patrick O’Neill (Vice-Chair), Ellen Balmain, Selina Volpatti, Karen Blackley, Shirley Cordiner, John Osczypko

Missing: Linda Allen, Barbara Carroll

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