Thunder Bay is receiving over $633,000 in new funding under the Survivors of Domestic Violence Portable Housing Benefit Pilot program. Ontario has selected Thunder Bay as one of 22 communities across the province to test the pilot. The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $20 million over two years to provide ongoing assistance to approximately 1,000 survivors of domestic violence per year under the new pilot program. Currently, survivors of domestic violence are given priority access to rent-geared-to-income social housing. Survivors enrolled in the new pilot program will have the option to receive a portable housing benefit, so that they can immediately find housing in their community instead of waiting for a social housing unit to become available. Based on the outcomes of the pilot, Ontario will consider ways to enhance the program and extend the portable housing benefit to other communities. The new investment complements the commitments made through Ontario’s recent Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy update and It's Never Okay: Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. It also supports the province’s goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years and ending violence against women, while providing better supports for survivors.
“I am pleased that this Pilot Program, being introduced by the Province, will give those dealing with domestic violence the option to use the portable housing benefit to find housing immediately. It is critical that we can get our individuals and families facing violent situations into safe and stable environments that can lead to improved health and well wellness and ultimately a dramatic reduction in domestic violence.”
— Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan
“I am very pleased with our governments’ new initiative to reduce the homelessness issue in Thunder Bay. By investing over $633,000 into our community, this pilot program will help reduce the wait time for social housing while also providing immediate assistance to those suffering from domestic abuse.”
— Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay –Superior North
“The obstacles women face when leaving abusive relationships are substantial such as acquiring a new residence independently, in an area where affordable housing options are limited. It is extremely stressful both financially and emotionally. This Pilot Project provides much needed support to Survivors of Domestic Violence in terms of securing safe, affordable housing. I am pleased that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of investing in such a project, and am grateful that Survivors in my community will be given more support in their endeavors to start anew. This is a vital step towards ending domestic violence and ensuring all Canadians are able to have a safe space to call home.”
— Don Rusnak, MP Thunder Bay-Atikokan
“Our government is committed to ensuring women and girls can reach their full potential and live their lives free of violence. Affordable housing is a key component of healthy and safe communities and my hope is that this pilot program will give those dealing with domestic violence a safe place to turn.”
— Patty Hajdu, MP Thunder Bay-Superior North
“This pilot program will help to enhance housing security for a particularly vulnerable segment of the population in the District of Thunder Bay,” said Bob Katajamaki, Chair of the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board. “Given the fact that Thunder Bay has the highest rate of police-reported intimate partner violence in Canada, it is our sincere hope that the portable housing benefit will help to make an important contribution towards ending violence against women.”
— Robert Katajamaki, TBDSSAB Board Chair
A portable housing benefit is a subsidy provided to a low-income household to help with housing costs. The subsidy gives a household the freedom to choose where to live, since it is not tied to a specific unit like most rent-geared-to-income social housing. The 2016 Ontario Budget announced an investment of $178 million over three years to support the updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. The additional funding for this pilot is part of a larger federal-provincial investment in social infrastructure spending that was announced in June.
Canadians are invited to help shape the National Housing Strategy by joining the conversation on www.LetsTalkHousing.ca. Ideas will help shape the future of housing in Canada.
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