A comprehensive listing of housing related terms and definitions
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Having trouble seeing the big picture? Check out our Ontario Social Housing Primer , a concise overview of social housing programs and providers in Ontario.
- 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.
- Affordability: Measuring affordability involves comparing housing costs to a households ability to meet them. A unit is considered affordable if the person is spending 30% of his or her income, or less, 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.
- Affordable Housing Program (AHP): The Affordable Housing Program is a federal/provincial program that provides grants and subsidized loans to support affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities.
- Agency for Co-operative Housing: This agency administers the operating agreements between Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and more than 500 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 Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 and /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.
- 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. More information on the AMO
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- Bachelorette: Small, self-contained units in converted houses that are usually rented by the week.
- 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 Social Housing Services Corporation).
- Boarding 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. More information on BOMA
- By-law: (see Municipal by-law)
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- 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.
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): Canadas national housing agency. Established as a government-owned corporation in 1946 to address Canadas post-war housing shortage, the agency has grown into a major national institution. CMHC is Canadas 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 have now taken over administration of these programs.
- Consolidated Municipal Service Manager (CMSM): A municipal government responsible for carrying out the funding and administrative responsibilities of the Social Housing Reform 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: 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.
- 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 Federation of Canada - Ontario Division (CHF - Ontario): This organization represents non-profit co-operative housing in Ontario. More information on CHFC - Ontario
- 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 the definition has been 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 Social Housing Reform 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 Social Housing Reform 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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- 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).
- 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.
- Domiciliary Housing: Permanent residences for people with special needs in Ontario. Operators of this type of housing enter into an agreement with the Service Manager and receive a per diem to provide residents with permanent accommodation and supports for daily living. Residents include: individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health or addiction issues and the elderly. Unlike emergency hostels, domiciliary housing is permanent housing for the residents. The program is cost shared 80/20 (provincial/municipal).
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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: Short-term housing for individuals and families who have no shelter (e.g. emergency housing facilities, motels).
- 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.
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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 Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 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. 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 over 800 members who supply and manage homes for over 250,000 households. More information on FRPO
- Filtering: 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.
- 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.
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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: There are many different definitions of homelessness. In the context of the National Homelessness Initiative, persons, families or households that have no fixed address or security of housing tenure are considered homeless.
- 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. More information on HPI
- Household Income Limits (HILS): These are income levels for each unit size in each service area, set out in Regulation 368/01 of Ontarios Social Housing Reform Act. The Social Housing Reform 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 Ontarios current Provincial Government that combines both Portable Shelter Allowances (attached to tenants) and Rent Supplements (attached to buildings).
- 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.
- Human Resource and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC): This is the federal agency that administers the Homelessness Partnership Initiative (HPI). 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: Ontarios Social Housing Reform 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. 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.
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- Local Housing Authority (LHA): An agency of Ontarios 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.
- Local Housing Corporation (LHC): A new type of corporation created by Ontarios 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: Service Managers in Ontario may establish local priority rules for rent geared- to-income assistance. Local rules apply in addition to the provincial priority rule (i.e. special priority - victims of domestic violence). They are meant to address particular local housing market issues.
- 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 rented or owned without government funding.
- Market Rent: Refers to the price a tenant pays a landlord for the use and occupancy of real property 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 Ontarios 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
- MMAH: Acronym for Ontarios Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This ministry had the lead role in designing and implementing the Social Housing Reform 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: Acronyms for Ontarios 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 acquired brain injury, people with substance abuse problems, and the frail elderly in need of support services in order to live independently. More information on MOHLTC
- Municipal by-laws: A standing rule governing the regulation of a citys 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: Ontarios Social Housing Reform Act and regulations allow 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.
- 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 Social Housing Reform Act, the Service Manager is responsible for the funding and the administration of the program according to the current operating agreement (unless both the provider and the Service Manager agree to changes).
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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.
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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.
- 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 Social Housing Reform 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 Plan (ODSP): A provincial income assistance program for people who are deemed to be unable to return to the workforce. More information on ODSP
- Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC): This agency of the provincial government formerly had responsibility for provincially-owned housing and for the direction of LHAs. Under the Social Housing Reform Act, its mandate has been reduced significantly.
- 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 is Ontario affiliate of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP). More information on ODSP
- 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; the operating agreements for all other providers (unless they were specifically excluded from the legislation) have been replaced by the Social Housing Reform Act and 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 Social Housing Reform 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: 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. Through Places to Grow, regional growth plans are developed that guide government investments and policies. More information on Places to Grow
- 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.
- Pooling of capital reserves: Capital reserve pooling is a practice based on the concept of economy-of-scale, proposing a greater return on securely invested monies when the sum of the monies is pooled rather than invested individually. In Ontario capital reserve pooling is prescribed to certain housing providers by the Social Housing Reform Act. It is administered by SHSC Financial Inc. (SHSCFI), an independent subsidiary of the Social Housing Services Corporation. SHSCFI has its own board of directors, most of whom are nominated by housing providers. More information on SHSCFI
- 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.
- 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 Corporations Act. A few PNPs are federally incorporated and some have charitable status.
- Project in Difficulty (PID): In Ontario, the Social Housing Reform Act prescribes circumstances where a housing providers serious 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 a receiver.
- 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 [hyperlink]. 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 Corporations mandate broadened to housing for low-income families. Managed by Local Housing Authorities with local boards; OHC set policy and provided services (such as legal and technical support). 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 Social Housing Reform 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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