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A Home For All

Niagara's Housing and Homelessness Action Plan | Community Update

Vision and goals

A Home for All is Niagara's 10-year Community Action Plan to help everyone in Niagara have a home.

The Housing and Homelessness Action Plan provides a complete vision for aligning activities to address current and future need in Niagara related to affordable housing and homelessness.

The plan's aim is that every person in Niagara has an affordable, suitable and adequate home to provide the foundation to secure employment, raise a family, and build strong communities.

Family holiding house keys

Goal 1


House people who do not have a home

Goal 2


Help people find and retain a home

Goal 3


Increase housing options

Goal 4


Improve the housing system

Collaboration and working groups

To accomplish the goals of the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, Niagara Region must partner with housing
and homelessness service providers across the health, corrections and child welfare systems, with municipal, provincial and federal governments, private developers, and Indigenous organizations and communities.

The Housing and Homelessness Action Plan working groups support collaboration in nine focus areas. Participants can align initiatives and provide ongoing input to the Region on service and system planning.

2021 Working groups

  • Assertive Street Outreach

    An evidence-based, housing-focused approach which engages with people sleeping rough to create pathways into housing while minimizing the harmful effects of rough sleeping.

    Chair: Shelly Mousseau, Gateway Residential and Support Services

  • Coordinated Access and By-Name List

    A community-wide system that streamlines the process for people experiencing homelessness to access housing and supports using a comprehensive by-name list of every person in the community experiencing homelessness, updated in real time.

    Facilitated by Homelessness Services staff

  • Homelessness Prevention

    Supports individuals and families in imminent risk of experiencing homelessness to maintain their housing or obtain new housing without becoming homeless.

    Co-Chairs: Michael Lethby, The RAFT and Jon Braithwaite, The Hope Centre

  • Housing Affordability Innovation

    Supports increased use of innovation to address the challenge of housing affordability in Niagara.

    Chair: Lori Beech, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services

  • Housing First and Home for Good

    Are recovery-oriented approaches to ending homelessness that center on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed.

    Co-Chairs: Shelly Mousseau, Gateway Residential and Support Services and David Michels, Southridge Community Church

  • Housing-Focused Shelter

    Is a best practice for providing short-term emergency accommodation, which aims to make homelessness as brief as possible while returning people to permanent accommodation.

    Chair: Steve Brnjas, Salvation Army Booth Centre

  • Housing Provider Advisory

    Acts as a consultative body on policies, procedures and guidelines related to non-profit and co-operative housing provider concerns, and identifies any issues or gaps in service.

    Chair: Betty Ann Baker, Niagara Peninsula Homes

  • Lived Experience Advisory

    Provides an opportunity for participants in Niagara’s homeless serving system to bring their experience and perspective of homelessness, housing and supports in order to raise awareness, educate, address stigma and inform local policies and practice.

    Chair: Ilona Matheson, Community Member

  • Supported Transitional Housing

    Provides short-term accommodation for those in need of housing during a life transition. It is meant to provide a safe, supportive environment where residents can overcome trauma, begin to address the issues that led to homelessness or kept them homeless, and begin to rebuild their support network.

    Chair: Elisabeth Zimmermann, YWCA Niagara Region

Housing and Homelessness Services by numbers (2021)

Niagara's Rental Market

In 2021, Niagara had a net loss of purpose built rental units. Average market rents for two-bedroom units increased by about 6 per cent for the second year in a row, with average rents for a two-bedroom unit increasing to $1,192 per month. Asking rents for scarce bachelor and three-bedroom units were up to 40 per cent higher than average market rents.

The average vacancy rate fell to 1.9 per cent , with average vacancy rates closer to one per cent for units that are affordable for lower income households. A more challenging rental market increases pressure on community housing supply. In 2021, the centralized housing waitlist grew by 11.5 per cent to 9,171 households.

41

Individuals placed through Home for Good program

2,839

Issuances of the housing stability plan assistance

2,055

Unique individuals accessed emergency shelter

26.8

Average number of days in shelter per user

127

Youth (16-24) diverted from shelter

45

New households in the Housing First program

239

Move-ins for people experiencing chronic homelessness

424

People who were chronically homeless on
Dec 31

9,171

Households on the central housing waitlist

2,981

Niagara Regional Housing-owned units

1,053

People on the By-Name List on Dec. 31, 2021

3,115

Non-profit and co-operatives units

New development updates

New Niagara Regional Housing development AmountUnitsStatus
Hawkins Avenue, Niagara Falls $20,800,000 73 (61 net new) 100% complete
York Street, Welland $13,700,000 43 To be completed 2022
New supportive housing development AmountUnitsStatus
YWCA Niagara Region, Oakdale Commons, St. Catharines $4,116,000 15 Complete and occupied
Supportive Housing, Buchanan Avenue, Niagara Falls $4,450,000 25 100% complete
Bridge Housing, Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls $3,800,000 15 40% complete

Progress towards achieving action items

By the end of December 2021, 61 per cent progress had been made toward finishing all 75 actions in the updated Housing and Homelessness Action Plan. Two years remain (2022-23) to complete all activities.

75 Actions

  • 32 Complete
  • 27 In progress
  • 16 To be completed

Highlighted accomplishments

  • Engaged Niagara Health staff to improve client transfers between local hospitals and emergency shelters
  • Reviewed Niagara's Common Assessment tool to
    minimize risks and barriers for women, youth, Indigenous people, and other priority populations trying to access homelessness services
  • Housing Focused shelter pilot had 51 intakes and 31 successful exits from chronic homelessness to housing
  • Niagara joined the Built for Zero veteran cohort in June 2021 and began collaborating with the Royal Canadian Legion to end veteran homelessness
  • Expanded eviction prevention and supports to
    housing providers through the Community Programs Coordinators
  • Began a review of the shelter diversion pilot (to be completed in 2022)
  • Began a review of homelessness prevention programs (to be completed in 2022)
  • In October, Council approved the new Regional incentive policy, which includes eleven Regional affordable housing incentive programs to leverage partnerships to generate new purpose-built affordable housing
  • Affordable Housing Master Plan to provide a long-term roadmap to address current and future need for affordable housing was in development (to be completed in 2022)
  • Housing Services staff supported community projects with a potential of over 533 new affordable housing units, including 40 units for high acuity clients
  • New agreements for in-situ units initiated with 19
    new landlords
  • 302 eligible households received the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit
  • Niagara's third Point-in-Time Count took place on
    March 23, 2021
  • Revised data strategy identified 280 performance measures across all areas of homelessness services delivery
  • Purchased $60,000 worth of accessibility enhancing items for use by shelter clients
  • Relaunched the Homelessness Services quarterly newsletter to improve information sharing
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