Ontario Communities’ Strategy Session: Stop the Cuts to Community Start-Up Benefits Dec.14, 2012

This video presents “John Clarke of OCAP Speech in Sudbury.mov”:

  • The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) in Canada is calling for a week of action from December 7 – December 14, 2012 to put pressure on Liberal MPPs throughout the Province to reverse the decision to eliminate the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)
  • Published on Nov 22, 2012
    • A discussion on the implications of the cut to the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit along with further plans by the coalition against poverty to fight the cut

According to the November 2012 report “The Real Cost of Cutting the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit: A Health Equity Impact Assessment,”

  • “In its 2012 budget, the Ontario government announced that it was eliminating the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)  as of January 1, 2013
    • As of January 1, 2013, the CSUMB will end and 50 percent of its funding ($67 million in 2013-20142) will be passed to municipalities as part of the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), the first phase of a multi-year consolidation of housing programs

    • Municipalities will determine how their provincial funds will be spent, but will not be required to produce housing and homelessness plans until 2014, ­ a full year after taking responsibility for CHPI that was created in July 2012 by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing under the province’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy

      • The Ministry will eventually consolidate twenty housing and homelessness programs currently administered in different ministries

      • Supports provided with CHPI funding will be available to all low income Ontarians, including but not limited to those on social assistance3

      • It is not yet known how municipalities will decide to run their local housing and homelessness programs

      • As part of the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, municipalities must produce local housing and homelessness plans in order to address housing needs in their communities, but these plans are not required until 2014

      • The province has not set any requirement for municipalities to deliver programs that cover the expenses that were eligible for the CSUMB, nor have they made public the terms under which municipalities will deliver consolidated homelessness prevention programs

  • The CSUMB is designed to assist people receiving social assistance who have large or unexpected housing-related costs that would otherwise be unaffordable, such as:

    • Starting a new job and need to move

    • Leaving an institution (such as a shelter, hospital, or prison) and need to find a place to live

    • Leaving a home because it is harmful to health and well-being

    • Leaving an abusive situation

    • Being evicted

    • Being faced with having utilities (heat, hydro or water) cutoff

    • Paying the first or last month’s rent deposit

    • Buying necessary household furniture

    • Replacing household furniture after loss from fire, bedbugs, etc.

    • Putting down a deposit for utilities, such as heat, hydro or water

    • Paying overdue utility bills

  • Having access to this kind of immediate and flexible fund (Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit) can often be the difference between getting a home and staying in a shelter or staying housed and losing one’s home
  • The cancellation of the CSUMB has the potential to increase the number of low income Ontarians who are precariously housed or who are homeless
  • The CSUMB is a needs-based mandatory benefit within the social assistance system:
    • This means that, currently, people receiving social assistance who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to receive up to the maximum CSUMB allocation and have a right of appeal if their claim is denied

    • Families are eligible to receive up to $1,500 every two years and singles are entitled to up to $799
      • Approximately 16,000 Ontarians access this benefit every month1

  • By contrast, funds for the CHPI will be provided to municipalities through block funding:
    • This means that when each municipality’s funding is exhausted, applications for housing supports will likely be rejected regardless of need

    • Moreover,there will be no ability for applicants to appeal decisions

  • The transfer of only half of CSUMB funds to CHPI also means that municipalities will have far less funding available for local housing and homelessness programs
    • This will severely reduce their ability to capitalize on the flexibility that was intended to result from program consolidation and local administration and delivery, as outlined in the province’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review4

1 Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, Housing-related supports: Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.
http:// www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/odsp/income_support/odsp_maintenance.ASPX

2 This figure is derived from information provided in Addendum to the 2012 Ontario Budget: Report on Expense Management Measures, p.11, Ontario Ministry of Finance, noting that the current allocation for the Home Repairs Benefit is approximately $3 million annually.

3 Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario Integrating Housing and Homelessness Supports.

4 Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy:
http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page9187.aspx#Partnerships; consensus report of Ontario, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the City of Toronto, Report of the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review, Facing the Future Together.

Copies of the above report can be downloaded from www.wellesleyinstitute.com

In regards to Ontario eliminating the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB), the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) invites you to the following provincial event:

Provincial Event
Ontario Communities Uniting
Goal: Stop the Cuts to Community Start-Up Benefits

Friday, December 14, 2012

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Hamilton City Hall, Second Floor

71 Main Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Please RSVP to hrpr@hcf.on.ca

  • Participate in the province-wide strategy session to discuss the cuts to Community Start-Up Benefits
  • If your community has experienced negative impact due to the cuts in Community Start-Up Benefits as part of Ontario’s Social Assistance System changes, please attend this session to discuss strategic options to advocate for a more progressive income support system in Ontario

Call the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) right away and let them know how you and your community can act to save the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit and challenge those who want to destroy it:

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty:
Phone: 416-925-6939
Email:  ocap@tao.ca
Website:  www.ocap.ca


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