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Marlene Coffey

Marlene Coffey

CEO, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association

Supporting affordable housing helps to create healthy, economically-stable communities — and contributes to post-COVID-19 economic recovery.


The pandemic has caused waves of unemployment and the very real risk for Canadians of having their income and housing threatened. Amidst this struggle, affordable housing is an important topic.

“Half of renters in Ontario are at a threshold where they can’t afford a place to rent,” says Marlene Coffey, CEO of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), “and 30% are paying half of their income in rent.”

Since the pandemic, this scenario has become even more profound, and as Coffey notes, “Crisis or disruption becomes the condition for change.”

Connecting the dots

“Housing, health, and employment are all connected, as are transportation, environmental sustainability, and community resilience,” says Coffey. “For every $10 spent on community housing, there’s $20 saved in health care, justice and social service systems.”

Coffey also notes that a popular principle for economic and financial recovery from a recession is infrastructure stimulus funding, which gets money flowing through the economy, gets people back to work, and makes sure people are housed — especially if the infrastructure is in the housing sector.

ONPHA is an independent association funded and directed by its members — over 700 community housing providers. It believes that secure, decent, and affordable housing is a human right and fundamental social determinant of health.

“Our vision is that we open doors through housing,” says Coffey. “Many good things happen when one opens doors, for tenants, families, and the community.”

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