Tracking the impact of the loss of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)

In the 2012 Ontario budget, the government announced that it was eliminating the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB). The CSUMB helped people receiving social assistance to pay for large or unexpected housing-related costs, supporting them to become and remain housed. As of January 1, 2013, the CSUMB ended and 50 percent of its funding was passed to municipalities as part of a consolidation of housing programs. On December 27, 2012 the government announced an additional $42 million in transitional funding to assist municipalities. This additional funding was not a reversal of the elimination of the CSUMB. The elimination of the CSUMB will have significant health impacts for people receiving social assistance, who are already among the most vulnerable in Ontario. Without access to the CSUMB, people receiving social assistance who have unexpected or large housing-related costs may lose their homes. The cut to the CSUMB will also disproportionately impact the health of people with disabilities, who face significant barriers to safe and affordable housing; women who need to escape from abusive situations; and children, who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health consequences of inadequate housing. We are mapping the impacts of the loss of the CSUMB across Ontario by asking municipal, community, and other staff working with clients who would have been eligible for the CSUMB to submit their stories through this survey tool. These stories are intended to be used not as a research project, but as a way to demonstrate to the Province that eliminating the CSUMB will have real impacts on the housing and health of Ontarians. Making sure that we know what happened to people as the result of the loss of this benefit will be important for a number of reasons, including: a) It will demonstrate the importance of maintaining and/or increasing funding for municipal replacement programs, and of ensuring the creation and maintenance of local municipal replacement programs. b) As the provincial government takes further steps to reform social assistance, they may be thinking about making similar changes to other benefits. Knowing the impact of the CSUMB change will help inform how restructuring might happen in the future.
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