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Rent-Geared-To-Income Assistance and Access
 
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Service Manager's Training Workshop Notes -- August 2001

("Section" and "Regulation" refer to the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000, SHRA, and the Regulations to the Act)

Concept of rent-geared-to-income assistance and waiting list management

a) rent-geared-to-income assistance provides low income households with suitable, adequate and affordable housing.

b) in order to receive RGI assistance, households must meet eligibility standards establish by the province (through legislation and regulations) and by the Service Manager.

c) generally, RGI ensures the household pays no more than 30 percent of its gross income for shelter.

d) the RGI approach is different from that used to calculate shelter assistance for other provincial programs such as Ontario Works.

e) the waiting list system is intended to ensure fair and easy access to social housing. These systems are commonly referred to as coordinated access systems have two components:

1. Centralized Waiting List

2. Priority Rules

Overview of Service Manager's responsibilities

Key aspects...

1. Set rules for each of the six functions listed below. (Service Manager cannot contract with another party to set local rules) local rules must not contradict provincial legislation and regulations.

2. Establish systems to ministry to the six functions; determine who will perform each functions.

3. Perform the functions or manage performance of the functions by others.

Application Process

_ Determined application requirements -- section 65.

_ Establish who will take applications.

_ Provide information to the public about social housing available in the service area -- Regulation 60.

  • Take applications from households seeking rent-geared-to-income assistance, or manage performance of this function by others -- section 65.

Determining eligibility

_ Set any local eligibility rules that service manager chooses -- section 75 (5) to (9)

_ establish who will determine eligibility at various times.

_ Determine eligibility of applicants initially and periodic reviews or manage performance of these functions by others -- section 66 (1,2,3) 68 (3,4,5)

Occupancy standards

_ Set local occupancy standards -- section 76 (4) to (7)

_ establish who will determine the type of accommodation permissible at various times.

_ Determine the type of accommodation permissible for households or manage performance of this function by others -- section 67.

Waiting list management

_ Establish a local priorities for access to social housing that service manager chooses -- section 77.

_ Establish a centralized waiting list system to ensure that the rent-geared-to-income housing in their community is accessible to people in need -- section 68.

_ Administer waiting list or manage performance of this function by others -- section 68.

Rent-geared-to-income

_ Establish processes for rent-geared-to-income calculations at various record steps.

_ Establish who will calculate rents at various times.

_ Determine the amount of rent-geared-to-income rent for applicants and occupants both initially and ongoing basis or manage performance of this function by others -- section 69.

Internal review process -- (new requirement)

_ Establish process for reviewing of prescribed decisions.

_ Establish who will conduct internal reviews at various times.

_ Administer internal review process or manage performance of this function by others -- section 82 and 83.

-- Red Flag -- Part V of the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 gives the Service Manager responsibility for administration of rent-geared-to-income assistance and for compliance with the relevant parts of the Act and regulations at point of transfer.

-- Red Flag -- the Service Manager is required to implement a centralized waiting list system within twelve months of the point of transfer. However, the Service Manager becomes responsible for waiting list management at point of transfer -- section 68 (1).

Application process

Provincial rules:

_ Application by a household for rent-geared-to-income assistance must be made to the Service Manager in whose service area the household wishes to receive the assistance (or to someone else the Service Manager has entered into agreement with to do this on their behalf).

_ If there's a change in any information or documents provided by the household, the household shall provide the updated information and documents to the Service Manager.

_ The application must include a consent which permits the disclosure to the Service Manager of information and documents required by the Service Manager.

_ The application and a consent must be signed by each member the household who is a 16 years or older.

_ Within seven business days after receiving the application, the Service Manager should give the household a written notice stating whether the application is complete or not.

_ The household must inform the Service Manager of any changes in information within 10 days after the change.

Local rules:

The application must include such information and documents as the Service Manager may require.

The Service Manager may require the household give the Service Manager written verification of income assets.

-- Red Flag -- a household applying to an "alternative housing provider" with a mandate to provide housing to households who are homeless or hard to house is exempt from documentation records if the alternative housing provider notifies the Service Manager that it is inappropriate for the household required to meet the requirements.

Eligibility rules

Provincial eligibility rules

A household is eligible for rent-geared-to-income assistance if:

_ At least one member is over 16 and able to live independently

_ each household member is a legal resident of Canada or refugee claimant

_ no member owes rental arrears to any social housing project

_ no member is guilty of obtaining RGI that he/she was not entitled to or misrepresenting income

_ household members having applied for specific forms of assistance for which they may be eligible, the sources of income are Ontario Works, divorce or support payments, Employment Insurance, government pensions and support from a sponsor under the Immigration Act

_ household members have divested interest in residential property as specified in section 9 of the regulations

Establishing local eligibility rules

The Service Manager must check with the legislation and regulations to understand requirements limitations of the Service Manager's discretion in setting the standards.

Income limits

_ A Service Manager may establish, and at times amend, a maximum gross household income amount.

_ The household income amount for a particular unit size and type cannot be less than the corresponding provincial household income limit.

_ Existing occupants would not be affected by introduction of, or changes in, and income limit; they would be "grandparented".

Asset limits

_ A Service Manager may establish, and at times amend, a maximum household asset amount.

  • The Service Manager cannot set a maximum household asset amount that is less than $20,000.00.

_ Existing occupants would not be affected by introduction of, or changes in, asset limits, they would be "grandparented".

Divestment of residential property

_ The Service Manager may extend time for divestment of residential property.

Misrepresentation of income

_ The province has set a period of ineligibility of two years for households that have been convicted of misrepresentation of income -- based on conviction of the criminal code or SHRA

_ The Service Manager may set a period of ineligibility, for misrepresentation of income, that is longer than two years. However, the Service Manager cannot set one that a shorter than two years.

Extended absence

_ A Service Manager may establish a local eligibility rules for the maximum period of time that all members of a household can be absent.

_ From time to time, a Service Manager can establish a new maximum absence period.

_ A maximum absence must be a specified number of consecutive days and it cannot be less than 60 consecutive days.

_ If one member of a household is absent because of a medical reason; or from members absent because of the absence of the member with the medical reason, they shall not be considered ineligible.

Review of eligibility for RGI

The Service Manager must review the eligibility of the household annually and determine if the household continues to be eligible. The Service Manager may review eligibility more frequently then once a year if they choose.

The household being reviewed must provide information documents as the Service Manager may require.

As with initial application, the Service Manager may require a consent to disclose information signed by members of a household or 16 years old or older.

A household ceases to be eligible for rent-geared-to-income assistance if,

a) at the time at the determination of eligibility, the household did not meet an eligibility requirement

b) the household no longer meets an eligibility requirement

c) the household has failed to apply for benefits to which they may be entitled

d) the household exceeds any household income limit, if one has been established

e) the household exceeds the household assets, limit, if one has been established

f) the geared-to- income rent payable by the household has been at "market" level for twelve consecutive months.

G) the household is overhoused relative to the occupancy standards and refuses to transfer to smaller accommodations.

Consequences of cessation of eligibility:

a) Service Manager ceases to pay RGI assistance, 90 days after giving written notice

b) the household shall pay market rent for the unit it occupies as of 90 days after receiving written notice

Provincial occupancy standards

-- Red Flag -- provincial occupancy standards apply only until the Service Manager adopts local occupancy standards.

The largest unit to household is eligible for it is a unit that has:

_ One bedroom for any two members of the household who are spouses or same-sex partners

_ one bedroom for each additional member of a household

An additional bedroom can be added for an adult if:

_ One of the spouses or same-sex partners requires a separate bedroom because the disability or medical condition

_ the room is required to store equipment required by member of the household because the disability or medical condition

_ the bedroom is required to accommodate an individual who provides a member the household with support services

_ a member of the household is pregnant

An additional bedroom for child can be added if:

_ A member of the household has joint custody over a child who is not a member of the household,

_ the member is required to provide accommodation for the child, and the bedroom is required to accommodate the child

_ a member the household is visiting rights with respect to a child that require them to provide overnight accommodations and bedroom is required accommodate the child

The smallest unit a household is eligible for is a unit that has:

_ one bedroom for every two members of the household

_ an additional bedroom if there's an odd number of members in the household

If the household consists of one individual or two individuals who are spouses or same-sex partners, the smaller share the household is eligible for is a bachelor unit.

A dependent student who is full-time at a recognized educational institution but lives of home when not attending school is still considered to be a member of the household.

Local Occupancy Standards

Service Manager must develop local occupancy standards within twelve months from the day the Service Manager assumes the transfer of the prescribed housing programs.

-- Red Flag -- if the Service Manager fails to develop local standards, the Service Manager will be deemed to have adopted occupancy standards that are identical to the provincial occupancy standards.

Wherever there are any conflicts between either the provincial occupancy standards or local occupancy standards in any provision of the Ontario Building Code or any provisions of the municipal bylaw that sets out occupancy standards for properties, the provisions of the building code or municipal bylaw will prevail.

Overhoused households

_ If the Service Manager advises the housing provider that a household is overhoused, the housing providers should transfer that household to a suitable unit.

_ If the housing provider does not have a suitable unit or if the household remains overhoused after a year, the household will be added to the Centralized Waiting List

_ if a household asks to be removed from the Centralized Waiting List, they become ineligible for RGI

Centralized Waiting List

A Service Manager shall establish and administer a Centralized Waiting List.

The Service Manager must establish a Centralized Waiting List "within twelve months of the point transfer".

The Service Manager must determine who will administer the Centralized Waiting List.

Housing providers shall not maintain their waiting list; however, the Centralized Waiting List also include a Subsidiary Waiting List for each housing provider which includes all household that have expressed a preference which fits that housing provider's portfolio.

Rules for Centralized Waiting List

_ Household preference for size of unit needs to be indicated on the waiting list.

_ A household may indicate their preference for all sizes or the largest units for which they are eligible.

_ If a household does not indicate a preference, then it should be indicated on the waiting list that their preference is the largest unit.

_ A household's preference for a housing project should be indicated on the waiting list.

_ If a household does not meet the mandate of a housing project, they should not be put on the waiting list for the housing project.

_ A household may indicate a preference for geographic area establish by the Service Manager.

Transitioning to a new Centralized Waiting List

_ All households that already a waiting list for housing projects will be added to the Centralized Waiting List.

_ The ranking date for household that is added will be the date the household applied for rent-geared-to-income assistance.

_ If, before the establishment of the Centralized Waiting List, different dates are used for the purposes of ranking households, the Service Manager may use those different dates as the ranking dates.

Provincial Priority Rules

-- Red Flag -- the provinces establish by regulation, the following to provincial party rules:

1. A Provincial priority rule has been established with respect to ranking according to date.

2. The province has also established one special priority group -- households that have been subject to abuse:

_ A special priority household ranks higher than another household that is not a special priority household

_ A special priority household ranks higher than another special priority household if the Service Manager determines that a member of the first household is a greater risk of being abused in the members of the other household

_ A special priority household ranks higher than another special priority household with a later special priority ranking date.

Any member of the household who is 16 years old or older may request that the Service Manager determine that the household should be included in the special priority household category on the Centralized Waiting List.

It is important for the Service Manager's to read the regulations, which stipulate:

_ Which situations of abuse received priority.

_ Who can make the request.

_ How and when the application for special party must be made.

_ What documentation the applicant may or may not be required to provide.

_ How to communicate with the applicant.

Special Priority Household Category

-- Red Flag -- provincial policies are designed to protect the safety of the applicant and other household members.

A request for a determination that a household should be included in the special priority household category must be in writing and must state that:

_ Member of the household has been subject to abuse from another individual

_ the abusing individual user is or was living with a member or is sponsoring a member as an immigrant

_ the abused member intends to live permanently apart from the abusing individual

The request and consent to disclose documents must be signed by the member making a request, or by an individual authorized to make the request of their behalf.

If the member making the request believes that he or she will be a risk of being abused by the abusing individual if he or she intends to obtain information or a document, the Service Manager must not require the member to provide that information or document.

The Service Manager must not require information as to whether the member making a request or the abused member has commence legal proceedings against the abusing individual nor information or documents relating to the proceedings.

The Service Manager well except one written statement from individuals of the type listed in the Regulation, as verification that a member of the household has been subject to abuse.

-- Red Flag -- the member making a request may inform the Service Manager of the way in which he or she wishes to receive communications from the Service Manager. Their request must be honoured.

There are special notes the name to protect the safety about begins for special party in several different places in the regulations.

Local Priority Rules

Service Manager's may establish local priority rules. However, the provincial priority rules prevail over local priority rules.

Local priority rules are in addition to, and must the consistent with, the provincial party rules.

When deciding on local priority rules, the Service Manager shall take into consideration the length of time a household has been on the waiting list and the need to relieve economic hardship or disadvantage.

In establishing local priority rules, a Service Manager shall not get preference to a household residing in their municipality.

The local priority rules include a rule on:

1. Ranking

2. Transitional matters in implementing a priority rule

-- Red Flag -- provincial priority rules prevail over local priority rules.

Exceptions to the rule of Centralized Waiting List

Service Manager's need to be aware of the following situations where the rules regarding Centralized Waiting List systems do not apply:

1. Housing projects with operating agreements under the Federal Programs.

Applicants will continue to be selected according to the terms of their operating agreements and unless they voluntarily agreed to participate in the local Centralized Waiting List system.

-- Red Flag -- where Federal projects include units, which receive rent supplement assistance funded by the province:

_ The provincial RGI standards will apply to those rent supplement units in the project

_ units which receive rent supplement assistance must be filled using the Centralized Waiting List

2. Special needs waiting list

-- Red Flag -- waiting list for special-needs units will be managed by supportive housing providers, not the Service Manager. Applicants for these units will not be part of the Centralized Waiting List.

Special-needs units have:

_ Accessibility modifications and/or

_ provincially funded support services available

 

-- Red Flag -- some units in a project or housing provider's portfolio may be "special needs" units with a separate waiting list, while other units will be filled from the Centralized Waiting List.

3. Dedicated support housing which is been transferred to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Tenant selection process

Steps in the process:

1. Occupant gives notice that they are moving out.

2. Housing provider is given first-place applicant from the sublist.

3. Housing provider reviews suitability household is identified in step 2.

4. Housing provider accepts/rejects applicant reviewed.

Rent-geared-to-income assistance

New standards

The legislation in the regulations on RGI, reflect the harmonization of the existing RGI policies and rules for public housing, rent supplement, non-profit and co-operative housing projects and a limited number of new government directions.

These changes apply to the provincial social housing programs. They will not apply to projects with Federal Operating Agreements.

Service managers' responsibility

_ Currently, calculation of geared-to-income rent is carried about housing provider

_ at the point of transfer, the Service Manager becomes responsible for RGI functions. The Service Manager knees determine who will carry of these functions.

A Options:

1. Service Manager

2. Housing Providers (as at present)

3. Third party

4. Divide responsibilities between two or more parties

-- Red Flag -- if the housing provider or third party will be responsible for RGI functions at the point of transfer, even if only for the interim, a formal agreement needs to be in place which defines rules and responsibilities.

Local standards

Service managers can set local RGI standards for:

_ Income verification requirements

  • how to handle rent increases less than $10.00

Rent calculation process

Rent calculation is needed at:

_ Initial application -- has been done informally

_ point of occupancy

_ recalculation is occupant's household circumstances change

_ regular review of household circumstances are twelve months

Rent calculation has three components:

I income determination

II rent calculation

III adjustments to rent, if necessary

I - Income determination requires the following steps:

Step one -- determining income:

_ All members of a household report their income from all sources.

_ Specific types of income that are exempt from the rent calculation identified.

_ The total income that is to be included rent calculation is calculated as a gross monthly amount.

_ It is determine whether any household members received income from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. ("Benefit units")

_ special deductions are made for "earned income exemptions" to the case of households where one or more members receive employment income. ("Family unit")

Step to -- determining assets:

_ Income received from assets is identified and all such income is taken into account

_ non-income producing assets are identified, and an amount representing an imputed rate of return on these assets is added income.

Steps three -- determining adjusted income:

_ The total gross monthly income the results is then calculated.

II - Rent Calculation

_ Based on the income sources of household members, either the 30% rent ratio or the appropriate social assistance rent scale is applied the household or to each component part of unsold ("benefit unit" or "family unit").

III - Adjustments to rent, if necessary

Step 1 -- Adjust geared-to-income rent:

_ The rent calculated is checked to ensure that is neither less than $85.00 nor exceeds the "market" rent otherwise charged for the unit.

_ If rent is for a partial month, it must be prorated accordingly.

_ Adjustments are made were necessary for utility charges of allowances.

Step 2 -- Housing providers adjustments:

_ Any additional charges that the housing provider is allowed to make (for example, parking) are added to determine the final monthly rent collected.

Internal review

Service managers are required to provide written notice of decisions about RGI.

Opportunity to comment

Service managers are required to provide the household with an opportunity to comment on any information that, in the opinion of the decision-maker, may form a significant basis for the decision.

The notice must contain the following information:

_ A summary of information.

_ A description of the proposed decision.

_ A statement informing the household of the right to comment in writing

_ a day by which the household can comment. This date must be at least 30 days after the date of the notice.

Notice of decisions

The Service Manager is required to provide notice for making decisions on the following:

_ Eligibility for assistance

_ type of accommodation

_ category

_ waiting list for units

_ amount of geared-to-income rent

_ deferral of rent

-- Red Flag -- a notice must be given within seven business days after the decision is made.

A notice must contain the following:

1. A statement of the date the decision is made.

2. It members of a household given opportunity to comment before the decision was made,

_ A statement of the date the notice was given

_ a statement of the day before which any comments must have been received

_ a statement of which members of the household provide comments

3. If a member of the household may request an internal review the decision,

_ a statement of the reason for the decision

_ a statement that the member of the household is entitled to request a review

_ information on how to request a review and what the deadline is for doing so

4. If no member of the household may request an internal review of the decision, a statement of the decision is final.

If the decision is made the household is eligible for RGI assistance, the following must accompany the notice of decision:

_ Noticeable what type of assistance is permissible

_ notice about whether the household should be included in the special priority household category, if a request for inclusion in the special rarity household category was made within the RGI application

-- Red Flag -- if a request for inclusion in the special priority household category was made with the application for RGI assistance, both notices of the decision should be given only to the individual who made the request, and all members of the household.

General rules for notices

Unless otherwise specified (for example, special priority household category), all adult members (16 years or older) of a household must be given a notice.

One notice addressed all members meets this requirement.

A notice may be given by the following methods:

a) directly to the person

b) placed in a mailbox or with someone who appears to be 16 years or older at the last known address of the person

c) by mail

A notice is considered received on the first day after notice is left at their residence. If It is mailed, it is considered received on the fifth business day after it was mailed.

A notice that is to be given to more than one member of the same household may be given by giving a single notice, addressed all members the household, to any member of the household.

Requesting an internal review

A member of the household may request an internal review regarding any adverse decisions concerning:

1. In eligibility for RGI assistance

2. Type of accommodation

3. The category of the household on the waiting list (only the individual who made the request for special priority category can request an internal review)

4. The amount of RGI subsidy

Note: Requests for internal review must be made in writing

-- Red Flag -- If the decision is with respect to a request for inclusion in the special priority household category, only the individual who made the request can ask for an internal review of the service managers decision.

Conducting an internal review

The following are the requirements for conducting an internal review:

_ No individual who is part of decision to participate in the review process.

_ The review must be completed within 10 days of receiving a request.

_ The review must be completed within 5 days if:

the decision is in regard to request for special priority household category status, or

the decision is in regard to application for RGI and request for special priority household status

_ The decision of the internal review may substitute for the original decision.

_ Within 5 business days, written notice of the decision must be given that individuals who requested review.

RGI and Waiting List Management for Federal Programs

RGI Standards

The RGI standards for Federal Programs are set out in each project's Federal operating agreement. The standards set out in this module will not apply. However, service managers and housing provider's may, by mutual agreement, choose to apply these RGI standards.

Centralized Waiting List System

The rules regarding centralized waiting lists systems do not apply for housing projects with Operating Agreements under the Federal programs. Applicants will continue to be selected according to terms of their Operating Agreements unless they voluntarily agreed to participate in the local centralized waiting list system.

-- Red Flag -- Where Federal projects include units which receive rent supplement assistance funded by the province:

_ The provincial RGI standards will apply to those rent supplement units

_ units which received grants of assistance must be filled using the centralized waiting list

-- Red Flag -- Some provincially administered projects have "Tripartite" Operating Agreements signed by CMHC, the province and the housing provider. As in the case with federal programs, the RGI standards waiting list rules in these Federal/Provincial Operating Agreements are used rather the standards and rules in this module.