Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Housing Wait List Numbers on the Rise

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

TORONTO, June 6, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - 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 released today 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 an almost 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 long-term 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."

For over 20 years, ONPHA has been the voice of non-profit housing in Ontario. Our 760 member organizations operate more than 160,000 non-profit housing units and provide housing for approximately 400,000 people such as the elderly, low-income families with children, the working poor, victims of violence and abuse, people living with developmental disabilities, mental illness, HIV/AIDS or addictions and the formerly homeless/hard-to-house.

ONPHA's members include municipal and private non-profits of all sizes, with all types of funding. A copy of the report can be found at: