Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Community Housing?

Community Housing includes:

  • Public Housing (formerly called “owned units”) – units owned and managed by a municipal housing corporation, which, for Niagara is NRH. Tenant rent is 30% of household income (called “rent-geared-to-income” or “RGI”) for low income residents who meet provincial eligibility criteria.

    NRH also has three communities with a mix of RGI, Market and Affordable (80% of Market – as determined by ‘average market rent’) rents – Broadoak (Niagara Falls), Birchwood “Fitch East” (Welland), and 527 Carlton Street (St. Catharines).

    *Reminder: Public Housing remains under the governance of the NRH Board (with Niagara Region as the sole shareholder), and the operation of Public Housing under the NRH Board remains guided by Board policy and directives.

    For questions related to Public Housing, contact the Manager of Housing Operations at 905-980-6000 ext. 3906.

  • Housing Providers (non-profits/co-operatives) – Niagara Region Community Services’ Housing Services division provides provincially mandated legislative oversight to non-profit and co-operative organizations across Niagara (largely through funding agreements). Non-profit and co-operative housing providers provide a mix of approximately 75% rent-geared-to-income (RGI) and 25% Market rental units to tenants.

    It is important to note that Housing Services does not directly manage housing providers. Non-profits are independent corporations that are owned and managed by an elected Board of Directors from the community at large. Cooperatives are owned and managed by the members who live in the units. They are governed by their own Board of Directors who are elected from the membership.

    For questions or complaints related to non-profits/co-operatives, contact the respective non-profit or co-operative property manager or Board Chair. Contact information can be found at Non-Profit Housing. For questions related to the legislative oversight of housing providers, contact the Housing Programs Manager at 905-980-6000 ext. 3926.

  • Rent Supplement Program – Consistent with municipalities across the province, Niagara Region Housing Services has agreements with private landlords to subsidize rents for tenants in private buildings. Tenants in rent supplement units sign a standard lease with the landlord of the building and maintain a landlord-tenant relationship like any other private tenant. Subsidies for designated units are paid directly to the landlord but the tenant is responsible to pay their own portion to the landlord in accordance with their rental agreement.

    For questions related to the Rent Supplement Program, contact the Funded Program Supervisor at 905-980-6000 ext. 3945.

  • Housing Allowance Program – In this program (to the extent that funds are available), Housing Services provides a rental benefit payment directly to the applicant/tenant or directly to private and non-profit landlords. The program is intended to provide temporary assistance while the tenant remains on the waiting list for a rent-geared-to-income unit.

    For questions related to the Housing Allowance Program, contact the Funded Program Supervisor at 905-980-6000 ext. 3945.

  • Niagara Renovates Program – Housing Services administers this program to assist low to moderate income households in Niagara with repairs and/or accessibility modifications to their homes. Program capacity is based on funds available and the number of applications received.

    For questions related to the Niagara Renovates Program, contact the Manager of Housing Programs at 905-980-6000 ext. 3926.

  • Welcome Home Niagara Homeownership Program – Niagara Region Housing Services offers down payment assistance for eligible applicants to help low to mid-income tenants purchase their own homes.

    For questions related to the Welcome Home Niagara Homeownership Program, contact the Manager of Housing Programs at 905-980-6000 ext. 3926.

2. How does the Centralized Waiting List (for those applying for community housing) work?

People in need of suitable, affordable housing apply to be on the Centralized Waiting List for community housing in:

  • Public Housing
  • Housing providers (non-profits/co-operatives)
  • Rent supplement units (i.e. subsidized units in private buildings)

In accordance with provincial policy, applicants must be Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada or refugee claimants and able to live independently (with or without support services) and meet specified income eligibility criteria. Other criteria can be found at Information for Applicants Applicants choose the communities they would like to live in and it should be noted that they will be housed more quickly the more options they select.

Once on the list, applicants are housed chronologically, unless they qualify for priority status. Priority is given to:

  • Victims of violence (special priority)
  • Over-housed (those current tenant/members who are living in a unit that has too many bedrooms for the number of people living there)
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Those whose situation is considered urgent, including:
    • Mobility barriers that compromise the applicant’s health (e.g. physical limitations, cannot walk up stairs and is living in a building that has no elevator)
    • Extreme hardship where the individual’s situation puts them at extreme risk and/or causes severe hardship and relocation would reduce the risks and/or alleviate the hardship

    Urgent priority DOES NOT include:

    • Police issues – related to activities in the building and safety concerns
    • Financial reasons – including low income and high rent
    • Medical condition not affected by current accommodation
    • Pregnancy
    • Landlord issues such as AODA requirements (landlord is responsible to provide accessibility modifications), maintenance of unit/building, verbal abuse by landlord or neighbours, loud noise, bed bugs, roaches, ants, and other insects

It is normal for households in need of subsidized housing to consider their own circumstances to be urgent. As a result, priority status must be closely monitored to ensure the waiting list is administered fairly. Further information on priority status can be found at Applying for Affordable Housing and Related Forms.

For questions related to the Centralized Waiting List, contact the Supervisor of Housing Access at 905-980-6000 ext. 3928.

3. Are applicants for accessible units given priority?

Applicants for units with accessible features complete a “Request for Accessible Unit” form.

While not formally considered a “priority”, requests for accessible units become a priority because only qualified applicants are eligible for those units (i.e. chronological applicants are not eligible for accessible units). Housing applications for accessible units are complicated because the applicant’s needs must match the accessible features of the units (e.g. a tenant may not be able to stand for long periods of time, so they need lowered counters but they do not necessarily need a fully accessible unit with roll-in showers). Some housing providers may have accessible units that they are not able to fill. When this occurs, they contact Housing Services and other agencies for assistance.

To be classified as an accessible unit, units only need one accessible feature so there is a wide range of configurations. There are 181 affordable housing units that have varying degrees of modifications and are classified as accessible.

For questions related to the Centralized Waiting List, contact the Supervisor of Housing Access at 905-980-6000 ext. 3928.

4. What happens if applicants do not accept the unit that is offered to them?

Further to provincial policy, all applicants receive only one offer of housing. If they decline that offer, the application is cancelled. It is important to note that since applicants are only offered a unit from the list that they have chosen, if they decline an offer they have rejected their own choice.

Failure to respond is also considered an offer.

For questions related to the Centralized Waiting List, contact the Supervisor of Housing Access at 905-980-6000 ext. 3928.

5. How soon will an applicant be housed?

With supply unable to meet the level of demand, the wait for a unit can range from 2-18 years and is understandably very discouraging for applicants. Average wait times for each municipality are available at Wait Times - Niagara Region Housing. Applicants are encouraged to choose as many locations as possible as increased selections can reduce wait time.

Staff cannot respond to any personal questions by a third party without a signed “Consent to Disclose Personal Information” form (attached). Even with a consent form, staff cannot predict when appropriate units will become vacant.

For questions related to the Centralized Waiting List, contact the Supervisor of Housing Access at 905-980-6000 ext. 3928.

6. Does the Centralized Waiting List include emergency shelters or temporary housing?

The Centralized Waiting List provides options for permanent housing only. This does not include shelter for emergencies, or temporary housing. Dial 211 or visit INCommunities website for information on temporary housing or emergency shelters.

Community Housing does not house households who are not able to live independently. Community Housing tenants must be able to live independently – with or without support services. This means that we do not house people who need 24 hour care (“supportive housing”). Visit Home and Community Care for information on supportive housing.

For questions related to the Centralized Waiting List, contact the Supervisor of Housing Access at 905-980-6000 ext. 3928.

7. How does Housing Services deal with social issues in Community Housing (e.g. conflict between neighbours)?

Please note that staff cannot respond to any third party enquiries about individuals without a signed consent form. Staff do everything possible to maintain healthy communities free of conflict, including the provision of:

  • Community meetings to discuss and resolve issues
  • Informal or formal mediation
  • Eviction prevention supports for individual tenants and households
  • Community programs and events that encourage neighbourhood pride and cohesion

The very last option, when there is tenancy breakdown, is a Notice to Evict. As it is recognized that an eviction can create lasting impacts for tenants already facing barriers and lower incomes, a Notice to Evict can be a “wake up call” to stop the offending behaviour or risk eviction. Eviction, as legislatively permitted, will only proceed if the behaviour does not stop.

For questions related to social issues in Community Housing contact: Community Resource Programs Manager, 905-980-6000 ext. 3937

8. What is the eviction process?

Community Housing is dedicated to maintaining housing stability for tenants and does everything possible to avoid eviction. We recognize that our tenants are often quite vulnerable. They live in poverty – sometimes with physical/mental issues, circumstances such as family breakdown, or a myriad of social conditions that can affect their ability to maintain a successful tenancy. As a result, Community Programs Coordinators (CPC) work with tenants to give them every reasonable opportunity to avoid eviction. If a tenant or member is concerned that they may be evicted, they should contact their CPC for assistance. Most will know their CPC but if they do not, they can be referred to Housing Services to find out.

However, as a last resort, eviction may be pursued for:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Social issues that negatively affect other tenants and are not being resolved
  • Damages to community housing property
  • Safety issues
  • Illegal activities or misrepresentation of income (fraud)
  • If all informal efforts to prevent eviction have failed (discussion, letter, meeting, etc.), the formal eviction steps are as follows:

  • Notice of Termination (“N4 or N5s” are the most common Notices)
    • 1st Notice – a warning notice giving the tenant 7 days to stop the behaviour. If the specific behaviour stops, the eviction process stops.
    • 2nd Notice – If the first notice is voided but another incident occurs within 6 months, the second notice restarts the process
  • L1 or L2 – Application to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) to evict
  • It is important to note that, throughout this process, eviction can be avoided through:

  • Settlement before the hearing
  • A mediated agreement
  • Demonstration of significant progress

For questions related to the eviction process in Public Housing (“owned units”), contact the Senior Property Administrator at 905-980-6000 ext. 3905.

For questions related to the eviction process in non-profit or co-operative communities, contact the non-profit or co-operative Board. Contact information can be found at Non-Profit Housing under the right hand side under Social Housing Provider Programs. Click “Providers Contact List” which is second from the bottom to open up list.

For questions related to eviction prevention, contact the Community Resource Programs Manager at 905-980-6000 ext. 3937.

Housing Services staff are not able to assist with enquiries related to eviction in private rental units and tenants are encouraged to contact Legal Clinic services for assistance if required

9. What if an applicant/tenant doesn’t agree with a housing decision?

Appeals may be requested from applicants and tenants on:

  • Applicant eligibility
  • Priority status
  • Over-housed status (i.e. more bedrooms than needed)
  • Transfer requests
  • Rent calculation issues
  • Withdrawal of Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI)
  • Provider refused to offer unit

Housing providers (non-profits and co-operatives) have their own appeal processes so members/tenants should contact them directly to appeal a decision.

To appeal decisions related to applications (i.e. the Housing Services Centralized Wait list), contact Housing Programs at 905-980-6000 ext. 3917.

To appeal decisions related to Public Housing (i.e. NRH owned units) contact Housing Operations at 905-980-6000 ext. 3920.

10. How is a complaint submitted?

There is a detailed complaint process that explains each step and includes a complaint form.

11. If you have further questions (or would like to suggest additional questions for this sheet), contact Wendy Thompson, Community Resource Programs Manager, at 905-980-6000 ext. 3937.

Jan 23, 2023

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