‘One cannot simply build their way out of this crisis’: Peel criticizes use of taxpayer dollars to fund developers who ignore low-income families 
Feature Image Alexis Wright/The Pointer

‘One cannot simply build their way out of this crisis’: Peel criticizes use of taxpayer dollars to fund developers who ignore low-income families 

“One cannot simply build their way out of this crisis.” 

The statement is plastered across a recent report to the Region of Peel outlining the implications of the latest federal and provincial funding announcements. 

Staff have used income and house-price data that show $40 an hour is required in Peel to afford average rents and resale ownership prices, which force families on an average income to wait 20 years (or 40 years for a minimum wage household) just to save a down payment for an affordable 25-year mortgage, according to the Region’s report. 

Funding announcements in the last few months by upper levels of government have been welcome, but the staff report criticizes the lack of taxpayer money for alternative forms of housing to diversify the housing stock. Building more for-profit market-geared homes will do little to confront the most acute aspects of the housing crisis.   

The June 13 report cautions that funding from the federal and provincial government does “little to address the significant investment and expansion needs of community housing, specifically housing affordable to low-income households or those who need supportive housing.” It continues: “Focusing solely on building more market, for-profit homes, with the expectation they will trickle down in price over time will not realize the right to housing for all Canadians and address the crisis that is here today.”

It also raises concern over the limited funding opportunities to help service managers (municipal departments) who oversee affordable housing through agencies such as Peel Living.

Staff say affordable housing “continues to be disproportionately funded” by municipal managers province-wide, despite the inability of the lowest tier of government to do so. Cities and regions lack the revenue tools to fund a central need which used to be paid for by the federal government before it downloaded the responsibility in 1996. 

The Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (now Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) was created by Ottawa in 1946 and its role was expanded for more than 40 years, during a period when the federal government built more than 600,000 affordable housing units. In the decade up to 1993, about $2 billion was cut from national housing programs and in 1993, money for new housing units was completely cut, leading to the controversial decision in 1996 to transfer responsibility of housing to the provinces. Ontario immediately downloaded the file to municipalities who were never given a revenue tool to pay for it.

Precarious living and homelessness exploded in most large Canadian cities, outside Quebec which managed to avoid the crisis through sustained funding and policies that kept rental rates at affordable levels (this has recently started to change).

The latest 2023 report from Peel Living (also known as the Peel Housing Corporation) revealed that the units provided by the Corporation, which houses over 17,000 residents in Peel and acts as the region’s largest community housing provider, are decaying, with the average age of its properties now at 38 years old. To maintain them in a state of good repair, the corporation says “significant investment continues to be needed to ensure tenant and staff health, safety and well-being.” To do this, the annual report estimates maintaining buildings in a state of good repair will require capital investments of over $773 million over the next 10 years, which Peel Living says cannot be funded by current reserve funds, leaving a gap of approximately $700 million. It warns that, “Without continued investment, the portfolio’s condition will decline, impacting tenant safety.”


Regional staff warn that building for-profit market housing will not bring the province out of the housing affordability crisis.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer files) 


The June 13 report recommended the Regional chair write a letter to the federal and provincial housing ministers on behalf of council with the following requests: that the Region of Peel be provided grant-based funding allocations equivalent to the need in the community for housing affordability-related funding and programs included in the 2024 federal and provincial budgets; that service managers be eligible for all application-based housing affordability-related funding, programs, and initiatives; that they be a part of any negotiation related to the CMHC-Ontario agreement under the National Housing Strategy; and that “significant” investment and expansion of a publicly-led community housing sector be made “to address growing numbers of low-income families and those requiring housing with supports whose needs will never be met adequately by the for-profit market alone.”

Staff warned the announcements highlighted in the report — including the Canada Housing Plan which promotes the expansion of rental housing supply — do little to change “the fundamental funding inequities” in the Region’s community housing sector, underlining that only a quarter of Peel’s housing funding comes from the federal and provincial governments combined. 

Staff acknowledge the latest announcements from upper levels of government “present an unprecedented opportunity” to increase desperately needed rental housing supply to address the housing shortage. But staff warn “significant investment” for the community housing sector is a critical piece to ending the housing affordability crisis. 

The Region endorses a “stacking” model that combines taxpayer money from all three levels of government managed by municipal service managers who best understand where the money should go. Implementing a vacant home tax — something the Region paused last July amid the uncertainty created by the since cancelled dissolution of Peel — could support the Region’s efforts to improve housing affordability.

Staff say there are several factors among recently announced policies that Peel and its lower-tier municipalities must navigate, such as the PC government’s development charge freezes for affordable units, which regional staff are still analyzing to measure the potential negative impact. Also, under the revised Planning Act, which comes into effect July 1 under Bill 185, the Region will have less authority over land use planning across its three lower-tier municipalities to directly influence changes to affordable housing and “maximize” the use of the announced programs and their funding. 


The Region is looking at several measures, including aligning planning policies and “stacking” grants to leverage funding from upper levels of government.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer files) 


Staff referenced the recently announced agreement between the provincial and federal governments which unlocked $357 million in federal funding under the National Housing Strategy — meant to provide more affordable housing over ten years — for municipalities across Ontario. 

A letter on the June 27 Regional agenda from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra confirmed the Region’s 2024-25 National Housing Strategy funding allocations under the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) and the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI). The letter, dated June 17, confirmed the Region will be receiving $13,134,200 under the COCHI and $6,986,400 under the OPHI based on a provincial review that found Peel is on track to build 8,644 rent-assisted units (44 percent of the target set under the agreement) by March 31, 2025.

Despite the recent funding allotments — which were announced after the Region’s staff report on the funding implications was released — relying on application-based funding from upper levels of government remains a concern for Peel. It is unclear how much, overall, will be allocated to Peel and the lack of designated funding, staff say, means the three lower-tier municipalities must act swiftly to align planning policies with the criteria laid out by the federal and provincial governments to ensure money for the region is “maximized”.

Staff are not hopeful.

There is “limited to no incremental funding” likely available for Peel. The report states that while the federal budget commits to extending programs, it is unclear how much funding, if any, Peel will receive, and whether program guidelines may change.

The report warns: “Peel Region’s ability to support households in need will continue to diminish” with the revolving door of policies and political decision making by higher levels of government. 

Meanwhile, the housing crisis in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon continues to engulf more and more residents. 



Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock

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