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Housing and Homelessness

Directive # 2004 - 01*

Date: June 28, 2004

The policies, procedures and Service Manager Requirements in this Directive are to be implemented by the Housing Access Centre (Durham Region) Co-operative Inc. and all housing providers in the Region of Durham included under the provisions of the Social Housing Reform Act and its associated Regulations.

Please note: If your housing corporation is not covered by the Social Housing Reform Act, this Directive is for information purposes only.

* This directive replaces in its entirety Regional Directive 2002-06 Regional Review Process.

Subject

Regional Review Process

Background

The Housing Access Centre (Durham Region) Co-operative Inc. (HAC) and housing providers that have service agreements with the Region of Durham are authorized to make decisions regarding eligibility for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) assistance on the Region's behalf.

In accordance with Section 82 of the Social Housing Reform Act (SHRA) and section 20 of Ontario Regulation 339/01, applicants and tenants may request an internal review or appeal of the following types of decisions:

  • Ineligibility for rent-geared-to-income assistance
  • Ineligibility for special needs housing
  • The type of accommodation in which the household may be housed (e.g. size of unit, mandate of building)
  • The category in which an applicant has been placed on the waiting list
  • The amount of geared-to-income rent payable
  • Deferrals of geared-to-income rent payable
  • A housing provider's refusal to offer a unit

The Regional Review Panel will conduct Regional Reviews of all decisions made by HAC or housing providers with the exception of refusals to offer. These decisions will continue to be reviewed by the housing provider.

Action Required

The Housing Access Centre (Durham Region) Co-operative Inc. (HAC) and housing providers are required to provide rent-geared-to-income (RGI) applicants and tenants with notification of decisions regarding their applications, waiting list information and eligibility.

If an RGI applicant or a tenant requests an internal review of a decision made on behalf of the Region of Durham, it is the responsibility of the Region to ensure that the review is conducted in accordance with the Social Housing Reform Act.

The Region of Durham has established the Regional Review Panel to conduct internal reviews regarding eligibility for RGI assistance, special needs housing and priority on the waiting list. These are called Regional Reviews. If a housing provider or HAC receives a request for a Regional Review, it will forward it to the Regional Review Panel for consideration.

Housing providers will continue to conduct internal reviews regarding refusals to offer in accordance with their local policies or by-laws; however, they may choose to assign this responsibility to the Regional Review Panel.

Types of Decisions that may be Considered for Regional Review

Applicants and tenants may request that the Regional Review Panel conduct a review of decisions regarding:

  • Ineligibility for rent-geared-to-income assistance
  • Ineligibility for special needs housing
  • The type of accommodation in which the household may be housed (e.g. size of unit, mandate of building)
  • The category in which an applicant has been placed on the waiting list
  • The amount of geared-to-income rent payable
  • Deferrals of geared-to-income rent payable

Notification of Original Decision

Housing providers and HAC must notify households in writing of any decision regarding their RGI assistance or placement on the centralized waiting list within 7 days of the decision. Where the household is notified of a decision that may be reviewed, the notice must contain the following information:

If you disagree with this decision, you may request a Regional Review of it within 10 business days. To request a Regional Review, you must write to your housing provider stating the reasons that you disagree with the decision.

Opportunity to Comment

If a decision that is adverse to the household is based on third party information, the housing provider must give the household an opportunity to comment before the decision is made.

Households must be given written notice of the intended decision and that they have an opportunity to comment within 30 days.

If a household is notified of an opportunity to comment, it may:

  • Choose not to comment, and the decision becomes final in 30 days
  • Choose to waive the opportunity, and the decision becomes final after all household members over the age of 16 years have provided written waivers
  • Exercise the right to comment, and the decision may be changed or may become final in 30 days

The notice of Opportunity to Comment is not a decision letter. Once all comments are received or waived, the housing provider will decide whether to proceed with the proposed decision. The housing provider must notify the household of the final decision within 7 days of making it.

Requests for Regional Reviews

Written requests for Regional Reviews must be submitted to the housing provider who made the original decision no more than:

  • 10 days after the notice of the decision was given in person
  • 11 days after the notice of the decision was left at the tenant's unit
  • 15 days after the notice of the decision was mailed

If a request for a Regional Review is received outside of these time frames, the housing provider may still forward it to the Regional Review Panel for consideration. The Panel may conduct the review if it is satisfied that there are compelling or unavoidable reasons for the delay.

Requests for Regional Reviews must include:

  • The decision that is being appealed
  • The date the decision was made
  • The reasons why the appellant disagrees with the decision
  • Supporting documentation that the appellant would like the Panel to consider

It is recommended that the appellant use the Request for Regional Review Form (PDF) to assist in writing their submission; however, use of this form is not mandatory.

Housing providers will make the Regional Review Request Forms available to applicants/tenants upon request. They may also choose to include them with notices of decisions that may be reviewed.

Regional Review Panel

The Regional Review Panel consists of representatives from housing providers, HAC and the Housing Services Division. A roster of interested participants from each of these sectors will be maintained and updated on a regular basis. Housing providers will be notified of the names of all active Panel members.

When a Regional Review is requested, a Panel of three members will be convened consisting of:

  • One person from the housing provider or HAC sectors
  • Two people from the Housing Services Division

The Regional Review Panel is an independent body that does not represent the service manager or housing provider. If a Panel member was involved in the decision under review, they will be disqualified from the Regional Review Panel for the case in question. Additionally, members from the housing provider or HAC sectors will not participate in any Regional Reviews related to housing projects or providers with which they are associated.

Information obtained during the conduct of a Regional Review is confidential and is not shared outside of the review. All members of the Regional Review Panel are required to sign confidentiality agreements.

The Region of Durham reserves the right to accept, deny or repeal anyone's membership on the Regional Review Panel.

Regional Review Hearings

Regional Reviews must be completed within 10 days of the receipt of the request by the housing provider or HAC. If the request pertains to a decision of ineligibility for Special Priority status, the Regional Review must be completed within 5 days.

To accommodate these requirements, Regional Review hearings will be scheduled every Wednesday. However, all efforts will be made to accommodate requests for hearings on alternate days. If there is no request for a Regional Review, the Panel will not meet.

Duties of Housing Provider /HAC

  1. Reconsideration of Decision

Housing providers or HAC staff may reconsider decisions whenever a Regional Review is requested. The benefit of this reconsideration is to avoid unnecessary Regional Review hearings where:

  • The household provides additional information that may affect the original decision
  • The housing provider/HAC and the appellant are able to reach a resolution that is acceptable to both parties
  • The decision was made in error

If as a result of reconsideration, the appellant chooses to withdraw the request for a Regional Review:

  • The housing provider/HAC will forward the appellant's written withdrawal to the Regional Review Panel; or
  • The request will be deemed not to have been made if it has not yet been forwarded to the Regional Review Panel

Reconsideration of the decision may occur at any point prior to the Regional Review hearing.

  1. Scheduling the Regional Review Hearing

When a housing provider receives a request for a Regional Review, it will contact the Housing Services Division for the time of the first available hearing on the following Wednesday. The housing provider will verbally notify the household of the date and time of the hearing.

  1. Preparation of Regional Review Package

Within 2 business days of a request for a Regional Review, the housing provider who made the original decision will send to the Regional Review Panel:

  • A copy of the written request or Regional Review Request Form (PDF) along with any additional information submitted by the household
  • A copy of the notification of the original decision
  • A copy of notification regarding any Opportunity to Comment
  • A copy of any Comment received from the appellant
  • A copy of any documentation waiving the appellant's Opportunity to Comment
  • A completed Regional Review Summary Form (PDF)
  • Any other information that the provider used in making its decision

The housing provider or HAC satellite office should not delay forwarding the Regional Review Package because reconsideration of the decision has not yet been completed.

A representative of the housing provider or HAC is also expected to attend the Regional Review hearing to present the details of their decision.

Duties of the Regional Review Panel

Upon receipt of a written request for a Regional Review, the Housing Services Division will determine if the decision qualifies for a Regional Review.

If the decision does not qualify for a Regional Review, the Regional Review Panel will send notification to the appellant indicating that the original decision cannot be appealed to the Panel and cancelling the date of the hearing scheduled by the housing provider.

If the decision does qualify for a Regional Review, the Housing Services Division will:

  • Send written notice of the date of the Regional Review hearing to the appellant and to the housing provider who made the original decision
  • Designate three Panel members to participate in the Regional Review

Designated Panel members will normally meet prior to the Regional Review Hearing to review the documentation and any related legislation, Regulations or policies. However, the Panel will not predetermine the matter before hearing submissions from the appellant and housing provider at the hearing.

Conduct at Regional Review Hearings

Regional Review hearings will generally be conducted at the offices of the Housing Services Division. Where transportation presents an issue for the appellant, the hearing may be held at another location suitable to all parties.

The appellant may bring a legal representative or support person with him/her to the Regional Review hearing. However, legal representation is not required for the Regional Review.

The Regional Review Panel will not present information on behalf of the housing provider or HAC. A representative of the housing provider or HAC must attend the Regional Review Hearing to present a summary of the decision and detail the reasons for it. It will address information and supporting documentation that was previously provided by them to the Panel and may introduce new information as warranted.

The appellant will be given an opportunity to detail their disagreement with the original decision. The appellant may provide supporting documentation.

Both the housing provider/HAC and the appellant will be given an opportunity to speak to any information presented by the other party. Additionally, the decision will not normally be discussed with one party in the absence of the other.

The Regional Review Panel may ask questions of both the appellant and the housing provider. The Panel will make all reasonable efforts to contact an appellant or housing provider/HAC if they fail to attend the hearing without prior notice to the Panel; however, the hearing may proceed in their absence.

The Panel may also conduct a Regional Review without a hearing with the agreement of both the appellant and the housing provider/HAC that made the original decision. Regional Reviews without hearings will be based on the written submissions of both parties.

Decisions of the Regional Review Panel

Decisions of the Panel will be made by consensus. Panel members will base decisions on:

  • Oral and written submissions presented by the appellant and the housing provider/HAC
  • Legislative requirements
  • Regional policies and procedures
  • Precedents set by earlier decisions of the panel
  • Consultation with staff of the Housing Services Division and/or the Financial Housing Services section of the Finance Department regarding the implementation and/or interpretation of Regional policies and required legislation

All decisions of the Panel are final and will not be reconsidered.

All appellants will receive written notice of the Panel's decision within 5 days of the hearing date. The Regional Review Panel will also provide a copy of the notification to the housing provider who made the original decision.

Monitoring

The Housing Services Division will monitor the timeframes for conducting Regional reviews to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Regulations.

In addition, the Housing Services Division will periodically prepare reports to summarize the activities of the Regional Review Panel. These reports will be provided to all housing providers, HAC and the Health and Social Services Committee of Council and will include:

  • Statistical information
  • Recommendations arising from the outcomes of Regional reviews

These reports will not contain information that identifies the appellants or the housing providers involved in the Regional Reviews.

Refusals to Offer

Housing providers are required to offer a vacant RGI unit to the highest ranked applicant on the centralized waiting list. Before offering a unit to an applicant from the centralized waiting list, the provider may first offer the unit to a current tenant on their internal transfer list giving priority to special priority applicants and then to overhoused households.

Under section 18 of Ontario Regulation 339/01, housing providers may refuse to offer a unit to an applicant under the following circumstances:

  • The applicant does not meet the mandate of the housing provider
  • The applicant's rental history indicates that they are not likely to pay rent
  • The applicant is not likely to participate as a member of a housing co-operative
  • It is unreasonable for the household to reside in shared accommodation
  • The unit is not suitable in relation to the number, gender and ages of the members of the household
  • The level of service required by a special needs applicant does not match the level of service provided for the unit
  • An applicant is ineligible for special needs housing

Where a household is refused an offer for any of the above reasons, the housing provider must notify them of the refusal to offer and of their right to request an internal review. It is the responsibility of the housing provider to conduct this internal review.

Housing providers must establish procedures for the conduct of internal reviews for refusals to offer. In accordance with section 20 of Ontario Regulation 339/01, these procedures must include that:

  • The internal review must be submitted in writing and requested within 10 days of the refusal to offer
  • The request may be withdrawn by notice in writing prior to the internal review
  • Any person involved in the original decision to refuse the offer will not conduct the internal review
  • The internal review must be completed within 10 business days of the written request
  • Written notice of the outcome of the internal review will be provided within 5 business days of its completion

Housing providers are encouraged to seek the input of the Regional Review Panel in conducting these internal reviews. Housing providers may also choose to assign this responsibility to the Regional Review Panel as part of their local policy.

The housing provider must update the Housing Services Division of any changes to their Internal Review Policy.

Additionally, the housing provider must maintain written records of all refusals to offer for a minimum of seven years. The service manager may request these records at any time during this period.

If you have any questions please contact your Housing Co-ordinator.


Shirley Van Steen
Director of Housing Services