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A comprehensive and current listing of housing related terms and definitions
Absolute Homelessness: a situation where an individual or family has no housing at all or is staying in temporary shelters or in locations not intended for human habitation. This condition may also apply to those who move between temporary housing arrangements provided by strangers, friends or family.
Abuse: Physical or sexual violence, controlling behaviour, intentional destruction of or intentional injury to property, or words, actions, threats, or intimidation that cause an individual to become afraid for his or her safety. The definition of abuse includes both one act or multiple acts.


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA): Mandates that all goods, services, services, accommodations, employment, buildings and structures develop, implement, and enforce accessibility standards. The AODA applies to every person and organization, including housing providers, in Ontario and calls for a completely accessible Ontario by January 1st, 2025. For more on the AODA


Affordability: Measuring affordability involves comparing housing costs to a households ability to meet them. A unit is considered affordable if a household is spending 30% or less of their gross income on rent.


Affordable Housing: Housing with a market price or rent that is affordable to low and moderate households that is equal or less than 30% of their gross household income, not including government subsidies.


Agency for Co-operative Housing: This non-for-profit agency administers the operating agreements between Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and more than 500 federal housing co-operatives in Alberta, BC, Ontario and PEI. Its head office is in Ottawa with regional offices in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. More information on the Agency


Alternative Housing: A type of non-profit housing for the homeless/hard-to house which emphasizes the provision and maintenance of stable housing and community development, rather than medical or psycho-social programs. Alternative housing has been devolved to the municipalities and does not generally receive additional funding from provincial ministries.


Annual Information Return (AIR): The annual reporting form that housing providers in Ontario submit to their Service Managers. The AIR is a summary of the corporation’s financial, operating, and statistical information for the fiscal year. The Service Manager uses this information for: verifying the corporation’s subsidy entitlement, assessing the corporations compliance with the Housing Services Act, 2011and /or its operating agreements (for federal agreements) and forecasting and budgeting facilitation.


Area waiting list: The waiting list for social housing in Ontario maintained by the Service Manager.


Arrears: is money for rent or damages owed by a tenant to a landlord or previous landlord.


Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO): An organization that represents all condominium managers in Ontario. ACMO’s mission is to enhance the condominium management profession in Ontario by advancing the quality performance of Condominium property managers and management companies. More information on the ACMO


Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO): This organization represents most municipalities in Ontario. Its primary purpose is to foster communication and collaboration between Ontario’s municipalities and the provincial government. More information on the AMO

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Bachelorette/Bachelor: Small, self-contained, often one room, units in converted houses that are occasionally rented by the week or on short leases.


Benchmarking: A management process that allows the deliverer of a product or service to compare its performance with like providers. Benchmarking is an important instrument in the design of the funding model for social housing, and means setting a narrow range of acceptable operating costs for social housing providers. Through benchmarks, the funding of operating costs and capital reserves is predictable for both Service Managers and housing providers.


Best Practices: A set of operational practices generally accepted by an industry as leading to increased operational efficiency, and thus worthy of being shared and copied among like service providers where applicable (see also Housing Services Corporation).


Boarding or lodging house: Typically a house or building where a resident pays rent to a landlord not only for a room (which may or may not be shared with other persons), but also to receive meals. Some housekeeping services might also be provided, such as a change of bedding. Boarding houses are covered in the Residential Tenancies Act.


Brownfield: An industrial site, especially when contaminated; also, a vacated building lot which has not reverted to a green state.


Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA): A group representing the Canadian commercial real estate industry. BOMA has over 2,500 members in regional associations across Canada and is a subsidiary of BOMA International. More information on BOMA Canada.


By-law: (see Municipal by-law)
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): Canada’s national housing agency. Established as a government-owned corporation in 1946 to address Canada’s post-war housing shortage, the agency has grown into a major national institution. CMHC is Canada’s premier provider of mortgage loan insurance, mortgage-backed securities, housing policy and programs, and housing research. In 1998, CMHC signed the Federal-Provincial agreement that transferred the administration of social housing, which had been developed under federal programs, into the hands of the provincial government. More information on CMHC


Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program (AHP): The Affordable Housing Program is a federal/provincial program that provides grants and subsidized loans to support affordable rental housing construction and provision, and homeownership opportunities. In March 2009, Ontario announced it would be matching federal contributions to establish a join $1.2 billion to repair and renovate existing social housing and to build new housing. This funding is allocated through the AHP and the Social Housing Renovation and Retrofit Program (SHRRP).


Canada-Ontario Social Housing Agreement (SHA): The 1999 agreement between the federal government and Ontario that transfers the administrative responsibility for federally funded non-profit housing programs to Ontario. In this agreement, the federal government fixed its financial support to all federally funded social housing in Ontario to the funding levels in place at 1995/96. This funding is decreasing as the mortgages for these projects are paid off. Subsequent to signing this agreement, administrative responsibility for federally funded non-profit housing projects was transferred to Service Managers through the Social Housing Reform Act which was replaced by the Housing Services Act in January 2012.


Canadian Housing and Renewal Association: A national organization that provides policy, research, training, and advocacy on affordable housing and homelessness. More information on the CHRA


Capital (Replacement) Reserve Fund: The corporation must establish and maintain a replacement reserve fund as required by its operating agreement and/or a capital reserve fund as required by Part VI of the SHRA. The cash and investments of the capital reserve fund are restricted, and can only be used for capital expenditures as defined in the operating agreement.  Capital expenditures must be funded from the fund, and not from the operating budget. The cash and investments in the fund are to be accounted for separately from the corporations other cash and investments, and maintained in the financial instruments as specified in the operating agreement or in regulations under HSA, O.Reg. 369/11. The cash and investments in the fund must equal the fund balance.


Census Agglomeration (CA): An area consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities located around a major urban core, where at least 10,000 people live in the core.  More information on CAs


Census Metropolitan Area (CMA): An area consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities located around a major urban core that has a population of at least 100,000, where 50,000 or more live in the core. More information on CMAs


Chronological Housing Applicants: Households on waiting list who do not fall within the special priority or  local priority mandates. These individuals are placed on a first-come-first-served basis.


Community Care Access Centres (CCACs): These centres provide a simplified point of access to long-term care in Ontario; arrange and authorize visiting health and personal support services in peoples’ homes; authorize services for special needs children in schools; authorize admissions to long-term care homes; provide information and referrals to the public about other community agencies and services. More information on CCACs


Community Sponsored Housing Program (CSHP): This is a generic name for the pre-1979 social housing programs, including Sections 26 and 27 of the National Housing Act, under which private and municipal non-profit projects were developed. In these programs CMHC holds the mortgage owed by the provider, and the rent supplement was administered by MMAH. Under the Social Housing Reform Act, Service Managers took over administration of these programs. The Social Housing Reform Act has since been replaced by the Housing Services Act.


Consolidated Municipal Service Manager (CMSM): A municipal government responsible for carrying out the funding and administrative responsibilities of the Housing Services Act. A CMSM could be a regional government, a county or a separated city, depending on the local circumstances. The CMSM is also responsible for administering other social service programs such as Ontario Works and child-care (see also Service Manager).


Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada – Ontario Division (CHF – Ontario): This organization represents housing co-operatives in Ontario. More information on CHFC – Ontario


Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHFC): An organization that represents the Canadian co-operative housing movement. The co-operative housing movement consists of housing co-operatives, whether occupied or under development, the people who live and work in them and the organizations and individuals that support and serve them. More information on CHFC


Co-operative housing: A form of social housing in which the households who live in the project are all members of the cooperative corporation that owns the building. They elect from amongst themselves a board of directors who are responsible for overseeing the management of the building. In Ontario, they are subject to rules in the Cooperative Corporations Act and are not considered to be landlords so are not subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.


Coordinated Access: A provincially mandated system in Ontario whereby housing providers co-operate at a local level to provide consistent information about eligibility criteria for access to social housing, using a common application form. The purpose of the system is to provide “one-stop shopping” so that an applicant need only apply once to be considered for all local social housing. Under the Social Housing Reform Act, which was replaced by the Housing Services Act,the definition was altered to include the development and use of a common waiting list within the boundaries of a service area. Based on applicants’ location preferences the system maintains subsidiary waiting lists for specific projects. The system applies to all providers, except providers with mandates to house the homeless / hard-to-house (optional), federal providers not covered by the Housing Services Act and housing providers funded by the Ministry of Health/Long- Term Care or Community and Social Services. The system operates under the direction of the Service Manager, but is managed according to the Housing Services Act.


Core Housing Need: A household is said to be in core housing need if its housing falls below at least one of the adequacy, suitability, or affordability standards and it would have to spend 30% or more of its before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three standards).
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Debentures: A financial instrument used by municipalities in the Province of Ontario to finance capital projects. Under the Municipal Act (Ontario) municipal government cannot use mortgages. Some of the financing authorities available to municipalities are Infrastructure Ontario, Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority (OSIFA). Infrastructure Ontario’s OSIFA Loan Program is one of the alternative financing approaches that the government is using to help municipalities, universities and other public sector partners renew Ontario’s public infrastructure. To date, Infrastructure Ontario has committed to over $2.8 billion in affordable loans to a variety of public-sector partners, of which $1.3 billion has been advanced.


Devolution: The handing over or “downloading” of social housing administration and funding, from the Province to the Service Managers. The exception is providers transferred to Ministry of Health (MOH)/Long-Term Care (LTC) or Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS). Devolution also refers to the “downloading” of responsibilities for non-profit housing from the federal to the provincial government. This occurred in 2000 with the introduction of the Social Housing Reform Act.


District Social Service Administration Board (DSSAB): Special agencies created by the Province of Ontario and given the funding and administrative responsibilities of a Service Manager. DSSABs were created in northern Ontario, where there is no existing municipal government with the legal jurisdiction to act as a Service Manager.
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Eligible Capital Expenditure: Expenditures that are incurred by the housing provider for the repair or replacement of major building systems and/or appliances. They also include reasonable expenditures incurred by the housing provider in planning and budgeting for those expenditures.


Emergency Housing for Victims of Violence: Short-term facilities for women (with or without children) who are victims of violence and as a result are in emergency need of accommodation.


Emergency Housing: Short-term housing for individuals and families who have no shelter (e.g. emergency housing facilities, motels).
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F/P Program: A Federal/Provincial social housing program, in effect from 1986 to 1992, under which the Province of Ontario took the lead role in building and administering social housing in Ontario. Sixty percent of the cost of the program was paid by the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Federal Unilateral projects: Non-profit housing providers, whose mortgage is held or whose subsidy was administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under Section 26, 27 or 95 of the National Housing Act.   The Housing Services Act (2011) does not affect the mortgages and operating subsidies of these providers.


Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM): An organization that represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations. The FCM represents close to 2,000 members. More information on FCM


Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO): This organization represents a wide range of multi-residential housing providers, landlords and property management firms, as well as related industry suppliers and professionals from across Ontario. FRPO represents members who supply and manage homes for over 350,000 households. More information on FRPO


Filtering Down: A market concept whereby it is assumed that, over time, higher-income households move out of older housing stock, making it available to lower-income households.


Final Capital Cost: Defined as the approved capital cost of the social housing project. As per housing programs, once a project received the approved final capital cost, any capital costs incurred after this were to be expensed to either operating or as a capital reserve expense.


Financial Testing: The process by which eligibility for RGI housing is assessed based on income as defined by the Housing Services Act.  The Housing Services Act allocated the responsibility of determining households’ RGI eligibility, verifying income, calculating rents, and conducting reviews, through financial testing to Service Managers. The Act also permits Service Managers to delegate all or some of these responsibilities to housing providers.


Flop House: A cheap, run-down hotel or rooming house. Also used to refer to a very cheap hotel offering only rows of beds. They are run as a business rather than through charities or services and will take in just about anyone who pays the cheap nightly fee.


Functional Design: A recent architecture term used to describe housing that is designed, built, or modified to allow for comfortable and practical use by the greatest number of individuals.
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Gentrification: Refers to the socio-cultural changes in an area resulting from upper- to middle-income people purchasing and renovating housing property in less prosperous communities. Consequent to gentrification the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community, which may result in the informal economic eviction of the lower-income residents, because of increased rents, house prices, and property taxes. This type of population change reduces industrial land use when it is redeveloped for commerce and housing. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, tend to move into formerly blighted areas, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to less wealthy natives.
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Head Leases: The lease of multiple units in a private rental building to a non-profit housing provider, who then sublets the units to tenants from its own waiting list (and may also provide support to those tenants).


Homelessness Partnership Initiative (HPI): This is cornerstone of the federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). Its housing-first approach recognizes that the first step is to provide individuals with transitional and supportive housing. Afterwards, other supports can be instituted as required to improve health, parenting, education, and employment.


Homelessness Partnership Strategy (HPS): This is a community-based program that relies on communities to determine their housing needs and develop local strategies. The HPS is funded by the federal government and administered at the local level. The HPS succeeded the National Homeless Initiative (1999-2007) in April 2007. More information on HPS


Homelessness: There are many different definitions of homelessness. In the context of the Homelessness Partnership Strategy, homelessness is defined as persons, families or households that have no fixed address or security of housing.


Household Income Limits (HILS): These are income levels for each unit size in each service area, set out in Section 40 of Ontario’s Housing Services Act. The Housing Services Act requires Service Managers to have a specific number of Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) units in their service area, which are occupied by tenants whose incomes are below the HILS.


Housing Allowance: This is a term used by Ontario’s current Provincial Government that combines both Portable Shelter Allowances (attached to tenants) and Rent Supplements (attached to buildings).


Housing and Homelessness Plan: Housing and homelessness plans are strategic plans implemented at the local level with the goal of providing secure housing to all Ontarians and reducing the number of individuals without stable living arrangements. These plans are multifaceted and provide directives for many different members including local government, service managers, housing providers, human services agencies, and infrastructure planning. In Toronto, the Housing and Homelessness Centre has been influential in developing housing and homelessness plans.


Housing Development: Housing that is built and managed by small groups or communities.


Housing Provider: This is an organization that owns and manages one or more buildings for low or moderate income households and receives either government funding or reduced mortgage interest rates to support its residents.


Housing Services Act, 2011 (HSA): Also known as Bill 140, this bill repeals the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 (SHRA). Unlike the SHRA, the HSA takes into account the broader housing continuum, encompassing homeless shelters, street homeless, private rental housing and affordable ownership. It also affords Service Managers greater decision-making powers and flexibility to meet unique community needs.


Housing Services Corporation (HSC): Formerly the Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC), HSC delivers a variety of province-wide services to support service managers and housing providers, as described in the Housing Services Act.


Human Resource and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC): This is the federal agency that administers the Homelessness Partnership Strategy (HPS). HRSDCs mission is to build a stronger and more competitive Canada, to support Canadians in making choices that help them live productive and rewarding lives, and to improve Canadians quality of life. More information on HRSDC


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Income Testing: Ontario’s Housing Services Act  gives Service Managers the responsibility for reviewing and administration of different financial aspects of projects – including deciding which households are eligible for rent-geared-to-income subsidies, verifying incomes, calculating rents, and conducting annual and mid-year subsidy reviews based on household income level. The Act also permits Service Managers to delegate all or some of these responsibilities to housing providers.


Internal transfer: The transfer of a household from one Rent Geared-to-Income (RGI) unit to another within the same project or to another project owned by the same housing provider.


Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH): The Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario program (IAH), which replaced the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), designates $480.6 million in federal and provincial funding over four years for the purpose of creating and repairing affordable housing. The IAH will provide increased flexibility to municipal Service Managers and other housing partners to deliver local affordable housing. More information on the IAH


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Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN): Local organizations mandated by the Provincial government, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, to ensure the effective integration of community health services. LHINs determine funding of support systems for transferred housing providers who provide support for ill older adults and the mentally ill. More information on LHINs


Local Housing Authority (LHA): An agency of Ontario’s provincial government which formerly managed public housing owned by the Province, and carried on other administrative responsibilities, such as the rent supplement program for private sector landlords. LHAs ceased to exist as of January 1, 2001. LHAs were replaced by Local Housing Corporations under the former Social Housing Reform Act.


Local Housing Corporation (LHC): A type of corporation created by Ontario’s former Social Housing Reform Act. LHCs are controlled by the Service Manager as sole shareholder and have taken over the ownership and other responsibilities of Local Housing Authorities (LHAs).


Local Priority Rules: Under the Housing Services Act, Service Managers may determine local rules for prioritized placement on the RGI waiting list based on local demographics, housing concerns, and need. Local Priority Rules are secondary to the Provincially mandated Special Priority Rule for persons escaping abuse.


Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS): Also known as Building Foundations: Building Futures, LTAHS is the companion strategy to the Housing Services Act, 2011.The goals of LTAHS include improving access to affordable housing and securing maintainable living situations for Ontarians.


Long-Term-Care Facilities (LTC): For people who require 24-hour nursing care and supervision within a secure setting. In general, long-term care facilities offer higher levels of personal care and support than those typically offered by either retirement homes or supportive housing.


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Mandate: The official designation of a housing provider to house particular groups in society (e.g. seniors, hard-to-house, families, youth, physically disabled).


Market Housing: Permanent housing that is privately rented or owned without government funding.


Market Rent: Refers to the price a tenant pays a landlord for the use and occupancy of market rental housing based on current rent for comparable property. Market rent is the rent paid by a household that is not receiving RGI assistance in a particular building. Many social housing developments have a mix of both market rent units and units that have the rent-geared-to-income.


MCSS: Acronym for Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. This ministry has the responsibility to fund and administer non-profit housing for people with developmental handicaps. More information on MCSS


Means Testing: A form of test used to determine whether or not an individual or householdis eligible for direct social support in the form of income transfers. Means tests calculate financial well-being and investigate factors, such as assets and debts, in addition to income.


MMAH: Acronym for Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This ministry had the lead role in designing and implementing the Housing Services Act and the Tenant Protection Act which has been superseded by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). More information on MMAH


Modified unit: A housing unit with accessibility modifications, allowing tenants with a physical disability to perform daily in-house activities as independently as possible. Modified units are generally excluded from the Coordinated Access system, though there may be some exceptions.


MOHLTC: Acronym for Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This ministry has the responsibility to fund and administer housing for people with high needs, such as the mentally ill, those with an acquired brain injury, people with substance abuse problems, and ill older adults in need of support services in order to live independently. More information on MOHLTC


Mortgage Escrow Account: At interest adjustment date (the date the mortgage commences), the corporation might not have completed construction of a new project. Any construction loan funds which remained unspent at that time, including funds drawn to cover accrued expenses, were to have been transferred to a mortgage escrow account. After completion of the capital cost audit, all mortgage escrow funds including interest must be returned to the Ministry Capital Funding Unit to be applied at the next mortgage renewal.


Municipal by-laws: A standing rule governing the regulation of a city’s internal affairs. Municipal by-laws should be in accordance with provincial and federal laws.


Municipal Code: A compilation of bylaws organized by subject.


Municipal Flexibility: Ontario’s former Social Housing Reform Act and regulations allowed Service Managers the flexibility to set some local policies, such as delegating of administration of Rent-Geared-To-Income (RGI), policies on asset limits, income limits, absences from units, optional RGI rules, and occupancy standards. The current Housing Services Act (2011) provides Service Managers with increased flexibility in the administration and funding of social housing.


Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation (MNP): A non-profit housing corporation that was established at the discretion of a municipality. The relationship to the municipality varies widely, ranging from total independence with no municipal appointees on the board of directors, to municipal councillors being the only board members.


Municipal Non-Profit Housing Program (Section 95): Refers to municipal non-profit housing projects developed in Ontario between 1979 and 1985. In these projects, the operating subsidy was provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Province provided an additional Rent-Geared-To-Income subsidy. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing had administrative responsibility for the program. Under the former Social Housing Reform Act, the Service Manager became responsible for the funding and the administration of the program according to the most current operating agreement (unless both the provider and the Service Manager agree to changes). This has remained unchanged under the Housing Services Act (2011).
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Non-Profit Housing: A kind of social housing provided by community-based associations (like churches or service clubs) or municipal corporations which operate on a non-profit basis to provide low- and moderate-rent housing. A percentage of non-profit housing tenants pay rents geared to their incomes (known as RGI housing), and the remaining pay market rents.


Not-For Profit Corporations Act (NFPC): A new federal act that recognizes Not-For Profit Corporations and other specialized corporations as being distinctly different from traditional corporations. The NFPC outlines the governing rules which apply specifically to Not-For Profits.


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Official Plan: A long range planning and policy document which guides and shapes growth and manages development over a 20 30 year timeframe. Official Plans contain goals, objectives and policies to guide future physical development of a community through the land use planning process while taking into consideration important social, economic and environmental matters and goals.


OHC Debenture Costs: These financing costs are associated with the public housing program under the Housing Services Act. Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC) Debenture/Loan Costs are 100% of the OHC net debenture costs are to be paid for by the Province on behalf of the Service Manager’s through a reduction in the transfer of federal funding.


Ontario Community Housing Assistance Program (OCHAP): A rent supplement program that provided Rent-Geared-To-Income assistance for non-profits funded under the federal Section 95 program to house low-income tenants over the number that could be subsidized by relying on federal assistance alone. This program is now administered by the Service Managers. The Housing Services Act rules for eligibility, rent calculation, and use of the Coordinated Access System apply to these units. The Ontario government transferred the co-op part of the program to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on April 1, 2001. (See Agency for Cooperative Housing)


Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP): A provincial income assistance program for people who are deemed to be unable to return to the workforce. The mandate of the ODSP is to provide people with financial support for living expenses, such as food and housing. More information on ODSP


Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC): A former agency of the Provincial government with responsibility for provincially-owned housing and the LAHs. This corporation has been renamed the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation (OMHC): This corporation’s mandates were significantly reduced under the Social Housing Reform Act (2000). The OMHC’s current responsibilities are primarily financial in nature and related to the corporation’s former role in delivering government programs. This includes providing the debt service administration for CMHC and provincial debentures on public housing properties. The Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act, 2006 enables the OMHC to administer other housing programs as may be directed by the province through regulation. More information on OMCH


Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act (2006): Extends the responsibility of the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation to administer housing programs as directed by the Provincial government.


Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA): This is a non-profit organization representing social and community services staff at the municipal level in Ontario. More information on OMSSA


Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA): The organization that represents non-profit housing providers in Ontario. More information on ONPHA


Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI): A not-for-profit Ontario Corporation that represents the province’s planning profession. OPPI provides leadership on policy related to planning, development, the environment and related issues. The OPPI represents roughly 3,000 practicing planners and 500 student planners. The OPPI is Ontario affiliate of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP). More information on OPPI


Ontario Works (OW): A municipally administered financial assistance program for families and individuals who have no other source of income. More information on OW


Operating Agreement: A contract signed between a government agency and a social housing provider that sets out funding, operating, and other responsibilities of the parties. Providers with federal unilateral funding and providers administered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or the Ministry of Community and Social Services retained their operating agreements (“pre-reform operating agreements”); the operating agreements for all other providers (unless they were specifically excluded from the legislation) were replaced by the Social Housing Reform Act regulations which have been replaced by the Housing Services Act regulations.


Operating Subsidy: Paid to social housing providers in Ontario, built under historic housing programs, and guaranteed for the life of the mortgage (usually 35 years) to bridge the gap between revenue from market rents and the total cost of mortgage and operations. Under the Housing Services Act, this subsidy pays for the “unaffordable mortgage”. Over the next 25 years, the obligations of government to fund this social housing will gradually expire, as housing provider mortgages are paid off.
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Places to Grow Act, 2005: Legislation that helps the Ontario government plan for growth in a coordinated and strategic way. It gives the authority to designate any geographic region of the province as a growth plan area, develop a growth plan in consultation with local officials, stakeholders, public groups, and members of the public and develop growth plans in any part of Ontario.


Places to Grow: An Ontario government program to manage growth and development in a way that supports economic prosperity, protects the environment, and helps communities achieve a high quality of life across the province. This program is governed by the Places to Grow Act (2005). Through Places to Grow, regional growth plans are developed that guide government investments and policies. More information on Places to Grow


Pooling of capital reserves:  Capital reserve pooling is a practice based on the concept of economy-of-scale, which proposes a greater return on securely invested monies when a sum of money is pooled rather than invested individually. In Ontario capital reserve pooling is prescribed to certain housing providers by the Housing Services Act. It is administered by Encasa Financial (Encasa), which is owned jointly by the Housing Services Corporation, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada and the Cooperative Housing Federation of British Columbia. More information on Encasa


Population Density: Refers to the concentration of people within a specific portion of a defined area or the average number of people who live on each square kilometer (or mile) of land.


Portable Shelter Allowances: Also referred to as the Housing Benefit. Assistance provided to RGI applicants on the social housing waiting list to assist in paying market rents.


Primary Rental Market: This refers to purpose-built rental housing, e.g. an apartment building.


Private Non-Profit Housing Corporation (PNP): A non-profit housing provider that is sponsored by a local organization such as a church, ethno-cultural group, service club, labour union, or other community group. It is a non-share corporation incorporated under the Not-For Profit Corporations Act. A few PNPs are federally incorporated and some have charitable status.


Project in Difficulty (PID): In Ontario, the Housing Services Act prescribes circumstances where a housing provider’s governance of operational issues constitute a triggering event that, if not remedied, entitles the Service Manager/ District Social Service Administration Board to impose a number of remedies, ranging from withholding subsidy to the appointment of an operational advisor.


Project under Review (PUR): A housing provider with management or governance difficulties that the Service Manager thinks may give rise to a triggering event.  Under the Housing Services Act, the Service Manager is obligated to provide assistance to the housing provider if it is possible that the housing provider is at risk of future problems.


Provincial Policy Statement: Came into effect in Ontario on March 1, 2005. It is issued under the authority of Section 3 of the Planning Act and replaces the Provincial Policy Statement issued in 1996. It provides direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development, and promotes the provincial policy-led planning system. The Planning Act requires that all decisions affecting land use planning matters “shall be consistent with” the Provincial Policy Statement.


Provincial Standards: The set of rules in Ontario, which establishes provincially mandated outcomes for various aspects of the social housing system, including RGI subsidies, co-coordinated access and financial testing.


Public Housing: Housing developed predominantly by the Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC) in the 1960s after the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s mandate broadened to include housing for low-income families. Managed by Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) with local boards, the OHC set policy and provided services (such as legal and technical support) and established large, 100% Rent-Geared-To-Income housing projects in urban centres. Downloaded from the Province to the Municipal Service Manager in 2001, these are now called Ontario’s Local Housing Corporations (see non-profit housing).


Pursuit of Income: The Housing Services Act requires Rent-Geared-To-Income (RGI) applicants to pursue basic income for which they might be eligible – from Canada Pension Plan, Ontario Works, Child Support, Employment Insurance, and immigration sponsorship support. Applicants that do not make a reasonable effort to pursue these income sources will be ineligible for RGI subsidy.


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Regeneration: An active attempt to reinvigorate a community that has become run-down or undesirable to occupy. This often involves significant improvements to housing units and grants are often provided through SHRRP. The goal of regeneration is to improve the community and living conditions for its residents.


Regional planning: Deals with the planning and design of a geographical level broader than a more local or municipal one.


Regulations: Provide details and direction on how legislation is implemented. The Housing Services Act has five regulations that impact the operations of housing providers.  Regulation 367/11 outlines the roles and responsibilities of service managers, rules governing the operation of local housing corporations and aspects of RGI (including eligibility rules, waiting list management, privacy requirements and appeals).  Transitional SHRA Regulation 298/01 outlines RGI calculations.  Regulation 368/11 lists the designated housing projects subject to the legislation.  Regulation 369/11 explains the calculation of government subsidies for housing providers.  Regulation 370/11 sets out Household Income Limits used for determining whether Service Managers are meeting federal requirements for the income of RGI households who receive rent subsidies where federal money is provided. Each regulation explains which housing providers or programs are subject to it.


Relative Homelessness: Refers to the condition of being at-risk of absolute homelessness, where residences (whether owned, rented or shared) do not meet basic standards that define Core Housing Need.


Rent Supplements: Paid to a private landlord to bridge the gap between a tenant’s rent geared- to-income and the market rent to fill units in their building with applicants from the social housing waiting list.


Rental Opportunity for Ontario Families (ROOF): The Rental Opportunity for Ontario Families (ROOF) program is Ontario’s $185 million housing allowance program. ROOF provides tenants with direct payments to off-set the costs of market rent. Since 2008, households eligible for ROOF receive housing allowance assistance for up to five years. More information on ROOF


Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Rent Subsidy: A subsidy paid to a social housing provider and guaranteed for the life of the mortgage (usually 35-50 years). In Ontario, the RGI Rent Subsidy equals the difference between the actual rent paid by a low income tenant (paying approximately 30% of their income) and the government approved market rent of a unit.


Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP): A number of programs that were provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to assist low-income households, people with disabilities and Aboriginal people. These programs also supported renovations to rooming houses and shelters, to increase the availability of housing for those in need. Under the new Investment in Affordable Housing program (IAH), RRAP has been renamed “Ontario Renovates” and is currently managed under the IAH umbrella. More information on RRAP


Residential Tenancies Act (RTA): The provincial legislation that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants in Ontario. Social housing is exempt from a few of its provisions (including the guideline for rent increases) but not others (including the processes for evictions). More information on RTA


Rest home: Provides housing and special care for convalescents and older adults or infirm persons. Rest homes are also referred to as nursing homes, convalescent homes, Skilled Nursing Units or care homes.


Review and Appeals: O. Reg. 367/11 of the Housing Services Act, describes how tenants residing in a non-profit, or applicants on a waiting list, may appeal an adverse Rent-Geared-To-Income eligibility decision made by a housing provider.


Rooming house: A rooming house is any building in which renters occupy single rooms and share kitchens, bathrooms and common areas. Rooming houses are sometimes referred to as Boarding houses. The building may be a converted single-family house, a converted hotel, or a purpose-built structure. Rooming houses may have as few as three rooms for rent, or more than a hundred. Rooming houses provide accommodation only and no additional services.



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Secondary Rental Market: Refers to non-conventional housing such as basement apartments, accessory apartments, rented condominium units, etc.


Sector Support Cost: If the co-operative has paid a sector support contribution to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada out of its mortgage loan, it is to be recorded as part of land, building, and equipment. The portion of the mortgage amortization related to the sector support contribution is to be excluded from shelter expenses. Sector support levies charged to members are to be excluded from occupancy charge revenue.  The Sector Support Cost is not subsidized by the service manager.


Semi-detached house: A house that consists of pairs of houses built side-by-side as units sharing one party wall and usually in such a way that each house’s layout is a mirror image of its twin.


Service Agreement: An agreement between a Service Manager and a housing provider governing the delegation of some or all of the Service Manager’s responsibilities pertaining to financial testing.


Service Area: Geographic area in which the responsibility for the funding and administering of subsidized housing by a Service Manager applies. There are 47 service areas in Ontario.


Service Manager: The term used in the Housing Services Act for a Consolidated Municipal Service Manager (CMSM) or District Social Service Administration Board (DSSAB). The term has been misperceived as a job position within a municipality or DSSAB. (See CMSM/DSSAB).


Shelter: Short-term accommodation for persons who have no other suitable accommodation. Also see Emergency Housing and Emergency Housing for Victims of Violence.


Shelter-to-Income Ratio (STIR): A commonly used affordability measure for housing, either home ownership or rental. A STIR of 30% or less is considered affordable.


Smart Growth: A planning theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl; and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus.


Social Development Strategy: The social component of the City of Toronto’s Strategic Plan. It is part of the city’s plan for the future and proposes a set of specific strategic directions to guide the provision of social programs and services and strengthening communities. It was approved by Toronto City Council on December 4, 2001 following a public consultation which was directed by a steering committee composed of city councillors and community representatives. More information on the City of Toronto’s Social Development Strategy


Social Housing Advisory Council (SHAC) and Social Housing Committee (SHC): Two bodies established by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make recommendations about reforms to the funding of social housing in the context of municipal devolution. They reported in 1997 and 1998 respectively.


Social Housing Agreement (SHA): See Canada Ontario Social Housing Agreement.


Social Housing Investment Program (SHIP): This is the investment pool managed by Encasa Financial (Encasa) and Phillips, Hager & North in which prescribed providers are required to invest their capital reserves as of February, 2003. If your non-profit is named in the Housing Services Act c. 6 Sched. 1, s. 127, you are a prescribed provider for purposes of the investment program. (See also Pooling of Capital Reserves).


Social Housing Reform Act 2000 (SHRA): Also known as Bill 128. This legislation, proclaimed in Dec. 2000, gave the Province of Ontario the power to transfer responsibility for social housing administration to the municipal level. In 2011, it was repealed with the proclamation of the Housing Services Act.


Social Housing Renovation and Retrofit Program (SHRRP): A federal/provincial joint program introduced in 2009 to fund social housing unit repairs and renovations.


Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC): Former name of the Housing Services Corporation (HSC). See Housing Services Corporation


Social Housing: Refers to housing built with the financial assistance of governments to provide assistance to low- and moderate-income households. It includes public housing, non-profit and co-operative housing and rent supplements. Rents charged are usually geared-to-income.


Special Needs Housing: Housing that is designed to accommodate individuals with specific needs and includes group homes, emergency shelter, housing for the homeless, and independent permanent living arrangements where support services such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, housekeeping, respite care and attendant services are provided. It does not include households that receive community-based support services in their own home.


Special Priority Applicants: Ontario Regulation 367/11, Section 52-58 of the Housing Services Act, gives priority ranking to social housing applicants who are experiencing abuse. This priority is given to enable the household to permanently separate from the abuser.


Support Services: Supportive Housing providers receive support-service funding through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or the Ministry of Community and Social Services.


Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative (SCPI): Replaced by the Homelessness Partnership Initiative (see above).


Supportive Housing: A type of non-profit housing for people who need support to live independently e.g. ill older adults, people with mental health problems, disabilities, chronically homeless, etc. In Ontario, supportive housing providers were not downloaded to the Service Managers. Support-service funding is provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
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Targeting plan: Indicates the number of Rent-Geared-To-Income units within a project.


Town or row house: A home that features an upstairs and downstairs that is attached to adjacent houses. Townhouses, also sometimes called row houses, can be built as single or multi-storied structures. They can be attached to other houses with one or both sides sharing common walls, depending on whether the unit is in a centre or end position. Townhouses can be grouped together as small units, such as duplexes or triplexes, or they can be a part of a larger townhouse complex.


Transfer Plan (Also known as Joint Local Transfer Plan): In Ontario, the implementation plan submitted by each Service Manager to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in spring 2001 to demonstrate their local capacity to provide housing administration.


Transferred Housing: The transfer of responsibility for social housing from the Provincial government to Service Mangers that occurred under the Social Housing Reform Act.


Transferred Provider: In Ontario, a non-profit housing provider, formerly administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, whose tenant population meets a provincial definition of supportive housing, and who receives support funding from either the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) or the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS). The province transferred the administrative responsibility to either MCSS or MOHLTC as appropriate.


Transitional Housing: Refers to temporary or interim accommodation (in the form of multi-unit apartments, single room occupancies, scattered site apartments, etc.) for homeless or at-risk of homelessness individuals and/or families that is combined with case managed support services, aimed at helping these individuals to transition to long-term and permanent housing, self-sufficiency and independence.


Triggering Event:  The Housing Services Act provides twelve possible scenarios defined that indicate that a housing provider is not fulfilling its responsibilities.  Evidence of a triggering event or evidence that indicates severe risk of a future triggering event occurring gives the Service Manager the authority to impose additional requirements and sanctions on the housing provider.
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Urban Planning: A practice that deals with the design of the built environment from the municipal and metropolitan perspective. Other practice areas deal in more detail with a smaller scale of development, namely architecture and urban design.


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Zoning by-law amendment: A change in zoning. It is used in order to use or develop property in a way that is not allowed by the zoning by-law. Citizens may apply for a zoning change, also known as a zoning by-law amendment or a rezoning, but council can consider a change only if the new use is allowed by the official plan.


Zoning by-law: A by-law that controls the use of land in communities. It states exactly how land may be used, where buildings and other structures can be located, the types of buildings that are permitted and how they may be used, lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights, and setbacks from the street. Zoning by-laws put the plan (official plan) into effect and provide for its day-to-day administration. They contain specific requirements that are legally enforceable. Construction or new development that doesn’t comply with a zoning by-law is not allowed, and the municipality will refuse to issue a building permit.


Zoning:A system of land use regulation which designates the permitted uses of land based on location in conformity with the Official Plan. One purpose of zoning is to prevent new development from harming existing residents or businesses.


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