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.
House people who do not have a home
Help people retain a home
Increase housing options
Improve the housing system
Collaboration and working groups
Affordable housing and homelessness in Niagara have reached a crisis point. Niagara Region cannot address this crisis on its own, and must partner with:
- Housing and homelessness service providers across health, corrections and child welfare systems
- Municipal, provincial and federal governments
- Private developers
- Indigenous organizations and communities
The Housing and Homelessness Action Plan working groups support collaboration in ten focus areas. Within those areas, they provide opportunities for participants to coordinate their efforts, and give regular feedback to the Region about service and system planning.
2022 Working groups
Assertive Street Outreach
A service that engages with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to reduce the harmful effects of rough sleeping while working toward long-term housing solutions.
Chair: Shelly Mousseau, Gateway Residential and Support Services
Coordinated Access and By-Name List
A way to objectively match people with appropriate services no matter how they enter the homeless serving system.
Facilitated by Homelessness Services staff
Exits from Justice to Homelessness
Collaboration with the justice system to reduce the number of people discharged from justice into homelessness.
Facilitated by Homelessness Services staff
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
A recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that focuses on moving individuals with complex needs into independent and permanent housing. This includes case management to support housing retention and improved well being.
Co-Chairs: Shelly Mousseau, Gateway Residential and Support Services
A low-barrier emergency accommodation for people experiencing a housing crisis that supports them to return as soon as possible to safe, appropriate housing.
Chair: Steve Brnjas, Salvation Army Booth Centre
Housing Provider Advisory
Advises on policies, procedures and services related to non-profit and co-operative housing providers.
Chair: Betty Ann Baker, Niagara Peninsula Homes and Kelly Kendrick, Ganawageh and Ohsto: Seri Urban Homes
Lived Expert Advisory
Advises on policies, procedures and services from the perspective of homeless services users, and raises awareness, educates and addresses stigma.
Chair: Ilona Matheson, Community Member
Supported Transitional Housing
Temporary accommodation and support to move people from homelessness to independent living or permanent housing.
Chair: Elisabeth Zimmermann, YWCA Niagara Region
Niagara's rental market
A challenging market for lower income renters
In 2022, Niagara's lower income renters continued to experience a more challenging market.
New rental units were built at rates not seen since the nineties and vacancy rates for rental units increased from 1.9 per cent in 2021 to 2.8 per cent. Despite this, average rents rose by 5.9 per cent - the strongest rate of growth in over 30 years.
There were fewer affordable rental options and rents for vacant units were on average 17.8 per cent higher than rents for occupied units. The difference in rents between vacant and occupied units was greatest for one-bed units (26 per cent) and three-bed units (33 per cent).
From January 2022 to January 2023 the average rent for a vacant two-bedroom unit in St. Catharines increased 21.8 per cent to $2,031 per month.
A more challenging rental market increases demand for community housing options.
Housing and Homelessness Services by numbers (2022)
Individuals placed through Home for Good program
Issuances of the housing stability plan assistance
Unique individuals accessed emergency shelter
Average number of days in shelter per user
Youth (16-24) diverted from shelter
New households in the Housing First program
Move-ins for people experiencing chronic homelessness
People who were chronically homeless on
Dec 31, 2021
Households on the central housing waitlist
Niagara Regional Housing-owned units
People on the By-Name List on Dec. 31, 2022
Non-profit and co-operatives units
New development updates
|New Niagara Regional Housing development||Amount||Units||Status|
|$20,800,000||73 (61 net new)||Occupied March 2022|
|$13,700,000||43||70 per cent complete|
|New supportive housing development||Amount||Units||Status|
Buchanan Avenue, Niagara Falls
|$4,450,000||25||Occupied February 2022|
Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls
|$3,800,000||15||98 per cent complete, partial occupancy|
Progress towards achieving action items
By the end of December 2022, 75 per cent progress had been made toward finishing all 75 actions in the updated Housing and Homelessness Action Plan.
The rest of 2023 remains to complete all activities. Areas of focus for 2023 include ensuring adequate financial resources are available for new affordable housing development, and supporting the delivery of Indigenous-led housing and homelessness services for Indigenous people.
- 50 Complete
- 13 In progress
- 12 To be completed
- In response to increased rents for private market units additional funding was provided to enhance housing allowances for participants in the Housing First and Home for Good Supportive Housing programs
- Niagara introduced a 15-bed Bridge Housing facility and a 25-unit Permanent Supportive Housing facility in Niagara Falls
- Niagara received Ministry of Health funding to operate a 10-bed Recuperative Care Bed program for individuals experiencing homelessness who are being discharged from hospital
- The pilot Housing Provider Community Programs Coordinators received 98 referrals for eviction prevention and support for tenants in non-profit, co-operative or rent supplement units
- The Welcome Home program provided down payment help for six low to moderate income households to become homeowners
- The Niagara Renovates program funded 29 homeowners to complete housing repairs or modifications for persons with a disability
- In collaboration with Niagara Region Mental Health, the Collaborative Homeless Addiction and Mental Health Pilot supported 75 people experiencing homelessness with serious mental illness and complex needs, and reduced calls to emergency services from shelter due to mental health concerns
- A total of $2,946,166 was used for capital repairs for non-profit and co-operative housing providers
- A Consolidated Housing Master Plan was created to serve as a guide for the development of new community housing units between 2022 and 2045 to meet local need
- Agreements were made with 26 new landlords to participate in the Rent Supplement program
- Housing Services provided project management support for 10 new community-led developments with more than 650 new affordable housing units at various stages of development
- Participants in the Lived Expert Advisory received peer support training to enhance the use of the peer support model in the homeless serving system