Need for Affordable Housing on the Rise in Ontario

by Chris on June 6, 2011

Economy may be recovering, but housing numbers show thousands still struggling

The number of households on social housing waiting lists across Ontario has jumped nearly 18% to 152,077 over the last two years, according to a report just released by the Ontario Non?Profit Housing Association (ONPHA).

The findings of ONPHA’s 2011 Report on Waiting List Statistics for Ontario shows that the number of households waiting for social housing continues to grow despite the modest economic recovery in Ontario.

As of January, 152,077 households were on waiting lists for financially assisted housing in Ontario – a 7.4% increase since 2010 and almost an 18% jump (22,824 households) from the 129,253 seniors, singles and families on waiting lists in 2009.

“Despite discussion of economic recovery, it is clear that many households are struggling to find a stable home they can afford,” said Sharad Kerur, ONPHA’s Executive Director. “While employment numbers may be improving, many Ontarians are living through an uneasy economic recovery characterized by reduced work hours, lost jobs or new jobs at lower wages.”

Many workers undergoing employment transitions need immediate housing assistance, but find that they will likely wait years to be housed. Discouraged by lengthy waiting times, in some cases up to 15 years, many households in need walk away without applying.

“In reality, the actual number of people requiring assistance is even higher than these statistics suggest, “said Kerur. “Over 260,000 households spend more than half of their income on housing and virtually all of them would be eligible for financially assisted housing – the numbers we see on waiting lists are really just the tip of the iceberg.”

The 2011 report found that waiting list applications in all three groups studied ? seniors, non?senior singles and families ? have increased. In particular, the number of seniors in need is rising quickly, with active applications in this group up 10% since last year. As Ontario’s population ages, more and more seniors will require access to community?based housing, making it a significant longterm issue that will need to be addressed if the province is going to meet the needs of aging parents and grandparents.

“Housing is the foundation of inclusive communities, strong economies and healthy families,” says Kerur. “The provincial Long?Term Affordable Housing Strategy provides a starting point, but the on?going needs of an aging population and a changing workforce will require lasting and consistent funding for new affordable housing development. Our members and other concerned citizens will be calling on candidates of all political stripes to articulate their vision for Ontario’s affordable housing infrastructure in the months ahead.”

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