The provincial government’s decision to eliminate the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) will have negative impacts – not only on housing, but also on people’s health.

The Wellesley Institute and ISAC – along with ACTO, the AOHC, Street Health, and the Peterborough County-City Health Unit – have partnered to produce a new report, “The Real Cost of Cutting the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit: A Health Equity Impact Assessment.”

The report calls on the provincial government to halt the planned elimination of CSUMB and reinstate the $67 million in funding.

Access to housing that is safe and affordable is a key determinant of health, and the cancellation of the CSUMB has the potential to increase the number of low income Ontarians who are precariously housed or who are homeless. This paper sets out some of the potential health implications of this decision through an equity lens.

Below is the press release that was sent out today to announce the release of the report – and five things you can do to combat the cut.


MEDIA RELEASE – For Immediate Release

TORONTO – People receiving social assistance will be a greater risk of homelessness if the provincial government’s plan to eliminate the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) is realized. A new report, “The Real Cost of Cutting the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit: A Health Equity Impact Assessment,” calls on the provincial government to halt the planned elimination and reinstate the $67 million in funding.

Community groups and municipalities are increasingly alarmed about the real cost of the provincial government’s plan to cut this key housing benefit, which will take effect on January 1. The province is downloading only half of the program’s funding to municipalities to run local housing and homelessness programs. Municipalities are struggling to plug the funding gap.

The elimination of the CSUMB means that people on social assistance who have unexpected or large housing-related costs could lose their housing and end up homeless. The report, from a collaboration of six health, income security, and housing organizations, says that cutting the benefit may have significant negative health impacts for people who are already among the most vulnerable in Ontario, including the homeless, women, children, and people with disabilities.

The report warns that without the CSUMB, women in transition shelters fleeing domestic violence won’t be able to afford moving costs when they find a safe home. People trying to move from homeless shelters into housing will be impacted, as well as many others, including people who are moving out of institutions, or who are trying to leave substandard housing wrought with bedbug infestations, mould and other poor housing conditions that lead to serious health problems.

Approximately 16,000 Ontarians access the CSUMB each month to assist with emergency housing costs they could not otherwise afford, including rent payment to avoid eviction, avoiding utility cut off, and leaving an abusive domestic situation. Families are eligible to receive up to $1,500 every two years and singles are entitled to up to $799.

To read the report go to: http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/publication/the-real-cost-of-cutting-csumb/.


Five Things You Can Do to Combat the Cut!

1. Send an email – automatically! – to the Ministers urging them to restore the CSUMB. Your email will also be sent to Opposition critics. Then FORWARD THE LINK to your friends, colleagues, clients, and get them to send an email too.

2. Download the template letter and circulate it to your friends, clients, people you work with – have them sign and send it to their MPP.

3. Contact your local MPP – call them to ask for a meeting, or send an email or letter to them directly. Tell them what the elimination of CSUMB is going to mean in your community. Ask them what they’re going to do to help restore the CSUMB.

4. If you are receiving OW or ODSP and have expenses that could make you eligible for CSUMB, make sure that you contact your caseworker to apply for funding right away! The program ends December 31.

5. If you work with people receiving OW or ODSP, here is a toolkit that you can use to help them apply.