The following human rights principles apply to housing:
- Everyone in Ontario has the right to be free from discrimination in housing based on membership in a Code-protected group. This covers getting housing, during tenancy and evictions
- People should be able to live in the community of their choice without discrimination
- Healthy and inclusive communities provide and integrate a range of housing for people of all income levels
- Landlords, housing providers, neighbourhood associations, municipalities, appeal bodies like the Ontario Municipal Board and the courts all have an obligation to make sure that people do not face discrimination in housing
- Discriminatory opposition to affordable housing projects is often found in the form of policies, legislation, actions, attitudes or language used that create barriers for people from Code-protected or disadvantaged groups
- Legislation governing municipalities, such as the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Planning Act, are frameworks for municipal autonomy, decision-making, transparency and accountability. In carrying out their responsibilities under these and other legislation, policies and programs, municipalities are responsible for ensuring they do not violate the Code.
To help put these principles into practice, the OHRC released its Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing in October 2009. This policy provides extensive details about both rights and responsibilities relating to rental housing in Ontario.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing administers a variety of policies, legislation and resources that municipalities can use to encourage new affordable housing (for example, the recently published Municipal Tools for Affordable Housing Handbook). These tools and resources, when combined with the OHRC’s Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing, make it possible to apply an effective human rights lens that can help to overcome discriminatory opposition to affordable housing.
Best practices – housing strategies
- Create an overall housing strategy for the municipality, addressing different types of housing, such as lower-end market, social, and special needs housing.
- Include policies for as-of-right affordable and/or supportive housing throughout the municipality in all neighbourhoods.
- Offer a mixture of rental and ownership opportunities.
- In the housing strategy, develop a set of principles that sets out the connection between human rights and housing.