Q2 (April 1 to June 30, 2021) to Board of Directors

NOTE: Effective May 30, 2021, Niagara Regional Housing (NRH) moved to a ‘fully integrated model’ whereby NRH staff joined Niagara Region and became part of the Community Services department. The NRH Board continues to provide governance for Public Housing (i.e. “Owned Units”). As a result, future Quarterly Reports will include only NRH-related information.

Recommendation:

That Niagara Regional Housing Quarterly Report April 1 to June 30 31, 2021 be APPROVED and FORWARDED to the Public Health and Social Services Committee and subsequently to Regional and Municipal Councils for information.

Submitted by: Approved by:
 
Donna Woiceshyn
Chief Executive Officer
Walter Sendzik
Chair

Directors:

Walter Sendzik, Chair
Regional Councillor
St. Catharines
Gary Zalepa, Treasurer
Regional Councillor
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tom Insinna
Regional Councillor
Fort Erie
James Hyatt, Vice-Chair
Community Director
St. Catharines
Betty Ann Baker
Community Director
St. Catharines
Betty Lou Souter
Community Director
St. Catharines
Karen Blackley, Secretary
Community Director
Thorold
Barbara Butters
Regional Councillor
Port Colborne
Leanne Villella
Regional Councillor
Welland

Highlights:

Appliction Activity
680 received & processed
Work Orders
2,449 issued
Capital Program
34 purchase orders issued
6 public tender closed
16 project ongoing
Rent Arrears
= $119,774.34
or 9.05% of the monthly rent charges
Community Resources & Partnerships
Offered supports to 376 new referrals
Had partnerships with 14 community agencies
Non-Profit Housing Programs
61% deemed HEALTHY
Rent Supplement/Housing Allowance
1,742 units
9 new landlords
Niagara Renovates
  • 2021-2022 inspections commenced
  • 17 homeowners are approved for funding
  • Welcome Home Niagara
    3 homeowners received assistance
    Housing First Project
    3 Individuals / families housed
    Appeals
    = 11
    5 upheld
    6 overturned
    New Development
    Hawkins/Dell
  • approximately 80% complete
  • VISION
    That the Niagara community will provide affordable, accessible and quality housing for all residents

    MISSION
    To expand opportunities that make affordable housing an integral part of building healthy and sustainable communities in Niagara

    As the administrator of social housing for Niagara Region, Niagara Regional Housing (NRH) works to fulfill our vision and mission through six main areas of responsibility:

    1. Public Housing (NRH Owned Units)
    2. Social Housing
    3. Rent Supplement Program
    4. Affordable Housing Program
    5. Service Manager Responsibilities
    6. Housing Access Centre and Centralized Waiting List

    1. Public Housing (NRH Owned Units)

    DAY-TO-DAY MAINTENANCE:

    In Q2, 2,449 work orders were issued, representing $955,700.80. $3,875.38 of this amount was charged back to tenants who were held responsible for damages.

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    # of work orders issued 2,303 2,656 2,500 2,532 2,449

    Work orders continued to be lower in Q2 due to COVID-19; emergency maintenance continued within COVID guidelines.

    CAPITAL PROGRAM:

    The Capital Program is responsible for maintaining the Public Housing (NRH Owned Units) asset and planning for future sustainability.

    In Q2, 34 purchase orders were issued and six tenders closed.

    The Capital Program was responsible for 16 capital projects and 34 purchase orders valued at $2,095,743:

    • Projects
      • 479 Carlton Street – window replacements and wall system repairs
      • Scott Street – window replacements
      • 45 Ormond Street – window replacements
      • 15 Gale Crescent – parking lot replacement
      • 30 Robinson Street – exterior insulation and finish system
      • 4278 Huron Street – exterior insulation and finish system
      • 52 Ormond Street North – building renovations
      • 10 Old Pine Trail – bathroom replacements
      • Powerview Avenue/Galbraith Street/Wallace Street – bathrooms
      • 211 King Street – elevator modifications
      • Various locations - upgrading heating systems
    • 15 RFPs and RFQs – various consulting services, elevator investigations, health and safety repairs, structural repairs (roofing) and pavement retrofits

    As of June 30, 2021, $9,313,961 of the 2020 & 2021 budgets ($15,534,858), excluding emergency, has been committed and or actually spent (59%).

    TENANT MOVE OUTS:

    Move Outs By Reason
    Health 4
    Long Term Care Facility 7
    Deceased 21
    Private Rental 4
    Voluntarily Left Under Notice 2
    Eviction – Tribunal 2
    NRH Transfer 4
    Moved to Coop or Non-Profit 1
    Bought a House 2
    Left Without Notice 3
    Other/None Given 27
    Cease to Qualify 0
    TOTAL 77

    In Q2, there were 77 move outs. One involved eviction orders granted under the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) for Arrears and was enforced by the Sherriff

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    # of move outs 57 90 68 49 77

    ARREARS:

    NRH Housing Operations actively works to reduce rent arrears but saw a continued increase in 2021-Q2 due to COVID-19 and tenants not paying rent due to the provincial no eviction order.

      Jun 30,
    2020
    Sept 30,
    2020
    Dec 31,
    2020
    Mar 31,
    2021
    Jun 30,
    2021
    Rent charges for
    the month
    $1,289,907.00 $1,295,815.00 $1,309,353.00 $1,292,287.00 $1,322,811.89
    Accumulated rent arrears $110,958.69 $113,204.57 $115,555.92 $113,634.13 $119,774.34
    Arrears % 8.60% 8.74% 8.80% 8.79% 9.05%

    INSURANCE:

    Nothing to report for Q2.

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND PARTNERSHIPS:

    Due to COVID-19, in Q2, we had partnerships with 14 community agencies across Niagara. As a result of these partnerships, 203 units1 of support and enrichment activities were offered to tenants at NRH sites. Each partnership contributes to tenant lives and, in turn, the success of the Public Housing community as a whole:

    1Tracking for support and enrichment activities has changed – we are now tracking it by units. Each time a partner is in a community providing a support and enrichment program or activity, it is counted as one unit.

    With the assistance of community partners, staff contacted all NRH senior tenants to facilitate bookings and transportation for both first and second COVID vaccines. Communication materials promoting the vaccine and offering NRH assistance were distributed to NRH communities and included translation documents noting the importance of the information and advising translation if needed.

    There was a marked increase in criminal activity and social issues in NRH communities in Q2. This can likely be attributed to a combination of factors including the increase in mental health, addiction and family breakdown during the lockdown, the uncertainty of the pandemic, together with the eviction moratorium that prevented NRH from removing problematic tenants and the lack of positive activities due to the discontinuation of in-person community programs and closure of common spaces.

    Also during Q1, CPCs offered supports to 376 new referrals of tenants in need of assistance. Of those new referrals, 51% were considered medium-high need, (e.g. child safety concerns, eviction, social issues, cognitive concerns). In particular, social issues continued to increase in NRH and Housing Provider communities, many of which stemmed from issues regarding noise. With stay-at-home orders, tenants and members are now home and more aware of, and sensitive to, the sounds of living in close quarters. NRH Community Programs Coordinators (CPCs) attempt to mediate as much as possible to prevent these issues from escalating.

    Eviction Prevention and supports have been extended to Housing Providers and the Rent Supplement program on a pilot basis through Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) funding. There is one full-time Community Program Coordinator (CPC) for Non-Profits/Co-operatives and one dedicated half to Rent Supplement and half to assisting with NRH-Owned units.


    2. Social Housing

    As administrator of social housing for Niagara Region, NRH provides legislative oversight for 56 Non-Profit Housing Programs (non-profit and co-operative). Operational Reviews are conducted to determine the overall health of each.

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    Healthy 37 38 36 35 34
    Routine Monitoring 21 18 18 17 17
    Intensive Monitoring 0 2 3 2 2
    Pre-PID (Project in Difficulty) 1 1 1 2 2
    PID (Project in Difficulty) 1 1 1 1 1
    TOTAL 60 60 59 57 56

    During Q2:

    • NRH/Housing Services continued to support providers by offering many education sessions and opportunities to connect (e.g. stress management, Safer Spaces and a mini virtual forum)
    • One provider was lost due to End of Mortgage (EOM)
    • The Capital Loan and Grant Program was rolled out with the call for business cases – any recipients will remain a part of Housing Services for an additional 15 years
    • The Housing Administrator vacancy was filled to make a complete team who will work together to support the providers in each of their portfolios

    3. Rent Supplement Program

    Rent Supplement/Housing Allowance

    In the Rent Supplement program, tenants pay 30% of their gross monthly income directly to the private landlord and NRH subsidizes the difference up to the market rent for the unit. The Housing Allowance program is a short-term program that provides a set allowance to help applicants on the wait list. In Q2, there were 1,742 Rent Supplement/Housing Allowance units across Niagara.

    Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB)

    The COHB is a portable rent benefit that helps applicants on the Centralized Waiting List pay their rent to their current landlord in the private market. In Q3, 230 applications for were sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on behalf of Niagara residents in need of housing. At the end of 2021-Q2, 311 of these applications had been accepted.

    In-Situ Rent Supplement

    An In-Situ Rent Supplement program has been developed to engage new landlords and offer applicants on the Centralized Waiting List an opportunity to receive Rent-Geared-to-Income assistance where they currently live. This removes the need for moving related expenses and broadens the network of landlords in business with NRH. In Q2, NRH initiated new agreements with nine new landlords.

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    Fort Erie 31 31 30 27 30
    Grimsby 22 21 21 23 23
    Lincoln (Beamsville) 14 12 12 12 11
    Niagara Falls 226 220 213 218 215
    Niagara-on-the-Lake 4 4 8 10 12
    Pelham 17 17 17 17 16
    Port Colborne 64 61 60 60 61
    St. Catharines 751 712 701 715 716
    Thorold 61 61 61 66 68
    Welland 259 302 284 270 261
    West Lincoln 16 16 16 16 18
    COHB Region-wide   206 245 268 311/
    TOTAL 1,465 1,663 1,668 1,702 1,742

    Variance in the Rent Supplement program are a reflection of fluctuation between agreements ending and new agreements taken up with landlords.

    4. Affordable Housing Program

    NIAGARA RENOVATES PROGRAM:

    The Niagara Renovates program provides assistance to low-to-moderate income homeowners for home repairs, accessibility modifications and the creation of secondary suites in single family homes. NRH received $651,871 through the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) for all three streams of the program.

    Inspections for new applicants for the 2021-2022 funding cycle have commenced. Inspections of completed work are being verified by homeowner photographs. Formal inspections will take place as soon as possible and will include all areas inside and outside of the home to ensure compliance with program guidelines. Issues will be identified and a detailed Inspection Report provided to the homeowner.

    As of the New Year, new applications are beginning to be processed in order to begin work as quickly as possible in the spring.

    17 homeowners are currently approved for funding and NRH is working toward streamlining the program as we become more proficient at working under the COVID rules.

    HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM – "WELCOME HOME NIAGARA":

    The Homeownership program assists low-to-moderate income rental households to purchase their first home by providing a down payment loan.

    In April 2021, NRH received $280,000 through the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) program.

    In Q2, three homeowners received assistance through Welcome Home Niagara.

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    # of homeowners assisted 5 7 7 4 3

    HOUSING FIRST PROGRAM:

    The Housing First program helps people move quickly from homelessness to their own home by providing supports to help difficult to house individuals find and keep housing.

    In Q2, three individuals/families were housed through the Housing First program. Since 2012, Housing First has helped 467 individuals/families.

      2020-Q1 2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1
    # individuals/families housed 13 9 7 13 6
    # of Housing First units (at quarter end) 201 195 187 972 94

    17 of these Housing First units were created with NRH’s new development at 527 Carlton Street in St. Catharines.

    2Previous stats for Housing First (2012 to the end of 2020) included the original pilot agency numbers. With the New Housing First Agreement, pilot agencies continue to support their clients but are no longer considered Housing First – as a result, those stats have been removed from the numbers reported.

    RENTAL HOUSING (NEW DEVELOPMENT & OTHER ACQUISITIONS):

    NRH New Development

    Project Description Managed / Operated by Current Phase Timeline Proposed # of Units Development Cost
    1. Niagara Falls - Hawkins Avenue Two 3-storey apartments NRH Construction – 3rd floor suites are nearly complete; finishes, prep & paint ongoing Occupancy January 2022 73 total; 55-unit building and 18-unit building $21 million
    2. Welland – York Street & Duncan Street (POA land) 5-storey apartment – Modular construction NRH Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) funding approval pending; anticipated 2021 Mandatory 12-month design-construction schedule 42 units, as per current Schematic Design $13.5 million
    3. Niagara Falls – Victoria Avenue Retrofit / Conversion of 2-storey historic building to transitional housing with on-site medical services and support programs NRH / Community Services Design complete; tender issued for Design-Build contractor Occupancy required December 2021 20 transitional housing units $2.9 million
    4. Niagara Falls – 5528 Buchanan Avenue Retrofit / Conversion of 2-storey motel to shelter units NRH / Community Services Property acquired by NRH; Building Permit Drawings submitted; Construction phase pending Occupancy required December 2021 25 units $3.94 million
    5. Fort Erie – Crescent Road 3-storey apartment – modular construction NRH Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) Round 2 funding approval pending; anticipated October 2021 Mandatory 12-month design-construction schedule 18 units, as per allowable zoning $6.5 million
    6. Thorold 5-storey apartment Thorold Municipal Non-Profit Full Design Phase & Site Plan Agreement Break ground May 2021; occupancy December 2022 60 units $18 million; approved for $4.6 million in funding for brownfield remediation through the PTIF-SCF Small Communities Fund.
    7. Fort Erie 10-storey apartment NRH currently retained as Project Manager Official Plan & Zoning Amendments approved; Federal Co-Investment funding application in progress TBD – pending Co-Investment approval 62 units $22 million
    8. Port Colborne Multi-unit apartment NRH currently retained as Project Manager Land acquisition / rezoning; Seed funding approved; Due Diligence work commenced Break ground April 2022; building completion July 2023 40 units $14.5 million
    9. Smithville Multi-unit apartment NRH currently retained as Project Manager Initiation – Seed Funding application draft complete Break ground April 2022; building completion August 2023 52 units $18.5 million
    10. Welland Affordable housing apartment building (CCHN); Condo building (Rankin) CCHN (Charitable Cultural Holdings Niagara) & Rankin City of Niagara Falls currently developing RFP Break ground May 2021; occupancy June 2022 90 affordable units; 30 market condo units Unknown
    11. Regional negotiated RFP Niagara Region negotiated RFP for housing development Various owners Design phase TBD Three projects representing 175 units total; 37%, or 65 units, to be affordable $1.7 million to be divided between three proposed projects
    12. Niagara Falls Affordable housing apartment building City of Niagara Falls City of Niagara Falls currently developing RFP; land remediation ongoing TBD 200 units – NRH to provide 50 subsidized RGI units $60 million
    13. St. Catharines & Thorold Affordable 4-plex in St. Catharines; Duplex in Thorold Oonuhseh Niagara Native Homes Construction Occupancy April 2021 6 units total Unknown
    14. Welland 3 acres of 5-acre owned land available for “Pocket Neighbourhood”; small, detached units (tiny homes?) Southridge Community Church Planning & Funding TBD 24 units Unknown
    15. St. Catharines Family townhomes Local 175 Taking ownership April 30 2021 TBD 70 units Unknown
    16. Niagara Falls Multi-unit apartment; Non-Profit Provider owns land NRH currently retained as Project Manager; Niagara Falls Non-Profit Housing Corporation Initiation TBD TBD TBD

    Affordable Housing Unit #'s by Municipality

      NRH Owned Housing Providers Rent Supplement New Development
    Fort Erie 116 354 44 0
    Grimsby 55 0 23 0
    Lincoln (Beamsville) 61 41 14 0
    Niagara Falls 884 828 274 140
    NOTL 40 0 8 0
    Pelham 0 0 20 0
    Port Colborne 88 139 71 35
    St. Catharines 1,017 1,608 796 346
    Thorold 29 85 70 46
    Welland 394 425 341 167
    West Lincoln (Smithville) 0 86 16 0
    Region-wide 2,684 3,564 1,677 734*
    as at December 31, 2020
    Note: there are no affordable housing units in Wainfleet
    *166 New Development units are NRH Owned

    5. Service Manager Responsibilities

    APPEALS:

    In Q2, NRH continued to hear appeals virtually. In April and May, ten appeals were heard (five upheld, five overturned). On June 1, 2021, NRH appeals were separated from Housing Services appeals. There was one Housing Services appeal heard in June (overturned).

      2020-Q2 2020-Q3 2020-Q4 2021-Q1 2021-Q2
    # of appeals 0 15 15 8 11

    INVESTMENTS:

    See Addendum #1.


    6. Housing Access Centre & Centralized Waiting List

    APPLICATION ACTIVITY:

    # of Applications Received & Processed 680
    # of Special Provincial Priority Status Applications 71
    # of Urgent Status Applications 113
    # of Homeless Status Applications 137
    # of Eligible Applications 656
    # of Ineligible Applications 24
    # of Cancelled Applications 189
    # of Applicants Housed 141

    In Q2, 189 households were removed from the Centralized Waiting List because they were no longer eligible, they found alternate housing or we were unable to make contact.

    CENTRALIZED WAITING LIST:

      2020-
    Q2
    2020-
    Q3
    2020-
    Q4
    2021-
    Q1
    2021-
    Q2
    # of households
    A Rent-Geared-to-income (RGI) waiting list:
      Niagara resident RGI waiting list 5,264 5,296 5,425 5,507 5,671
      Applicants from outside Niagara 1,078 1,129 1,173 1,204 1,280
    TOTAL RGI waiting list: 6,342 6,425 6,598 6,711 6,951
      Housing Allowance: a set allowance to help applicants on the waiting list with affordability in the private market until housed in an RGI unit 723 702 669 648 644
    A1 RGI waiting list demographics:
      Seniors 2,487 2,506 2,557 2,564 2,639
      Adults no dependents 2,026 2,049 2,137 2,172 2,252
      Adults with dependents 1,829 1,870 1,904 1,975 2,060
    A2 RGI list further segmented (#’s included in A & A1):
      SPP – Special Provincial Priority (Ministry Priority): helps victims of violence separate permanently from their abuser 142 128 132 116 114
      URG – Urgent (Local Priority): for applicants with mobility barriers and/or extreme hardship where their current accommodation puts them at extreme risk and/or causes hardship 144 135 153 152 156
      UHML – Homeless (Local Priority): provides increased opportunity for placement to homeless households 1,119 1,134 1,146 1,132 1,199
      SUP – Supportive/Transitional: provides targeted, provisional services to assist individuals to transition beyond basic needs to more permanent housing 10 11 11 10 18
    B In addition, NRH manages:
      Overhoused: households who are living in subsidized accommodation with more bedrooms than they are eligible for 173 157 145 145 145
      Transfer: households who are currently living in subsidized accommodation and have requested a transfer to another provider 637 660 656 675 683
    TOTAL RGI households on waiting list managed by NRH: 7,152 7,242 7,399 7,531 7,779
    C NRH maintains a waiting list for market rent units (62 Non-Profit Housing Programs):
      Market: applicants who have applied for a market rent unit in the Non-Profit Housing Programs portfolio 805 808 829 861 910
    TOTAL households on waiting list managed by NRH: 7,157 8,050 8,228 8,392 8,689
    TOTAL individuals on waiting list managed by NRH: 14,180 14,429 14,737 15,125 15,741

    Note: the above chart includes only those who apply to the Centralized Waiting List and does not capture the full number of those in need of affordable housing in Niagara.

    ESTIMATED WAIT TIMES:

    CITY SENIORS
    Age 55 and older
    SINGLES
    Age 16-54
    HOUSEHOLDS WITH DEPENDENTS
    Bachelor 1 Bed Bachelor 1 Bed 2 Bed 3 Bed 4 Bed 5 Bed
    YEARS
    Forst Erie - 11 3 7 2 2 6 -
    Grimsby - 5 - - - - - -
    Lincoln - 6 - 10 6 10 - -
    Niagara Falls 5 7 - 18 5 5 12 16
    Niagara-on-the-Lake - 6 - - - - - -
    Port Colborne - 8 - 12 5 3 4 -
    St. Catharines - 5 9 16 3 3 3 11
    Thorold - 7 - 13 3 11 - -
    Welland - 6 7 16 7 3 8 7
    West Lincoln - 5 - - 10 6 - -

    - no units of this size available in this community
    January 2020

    Please note:

    • wait time information can fluctuate and is an approximation only
    • wait times may not reflect the actual time one may wait for affordable housing


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