Friday, September 16, 2011

Wanted: An Affordable Home

photo credit: fadedgenes via Flickr

More progress needed to help households in housing need

TORONTO, September 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Authors of a newly released report on housing issues are calling on provincial candidates to focus on creating affordable homes for more than 152,000 households on community housing wait lists across Ontario.

The 2011 edition of Where's Home?, authored by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada Ontario Region (CHF Canada Ontario Region), analyzes 22 separate housing markets and highlights the need for more affordable rental housing across the Province.

This year's report shows that it is increasingly difficult for low and modest income people in Ontario to find safe, affordable rental housing options that are appropriate for their families. This daily reality is highlighted by data that indicates overall vacancy rates across the province continue to tighten - dropping to 2.9% between 2009 and 2010.

"Vacancy rates are tightening up and rental demand is expanding," says Sharad Kerur, ONPHA's Executive Director. "An aging population, increased levels of immigration and future economic conditions will all play a role in determining rental housing needs in the years ahead - and it will be up to local communities and senior governments to help meet those needs."

"This year's findings clearly demonstrate that the gap between homeowners and tenants' incomes is growing ever wider and many Ontarians of low and modest means are struggling to find a home that they can afford," said Harvey Cooper, Manager of Government Relations at CHF Canada Ontario Region. "I worry about families being forced to choose between paying for the necessities of life, putting food on the table and paying the rent."

In addition to inadequate supply, high energy costs are compounding affordability problems for low and moderate income renter households - making it even harder for them to make ends meet.

While this year's report brings attention to a number of troubling trends, there are bright spots that show progress can be made if communities have access to innovative ideas, government support, and sufficient levels of funding.

"While the number of new rental units being produced is not nearly enough to meet the growing demand, recent initiatives - particularly the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program (AHP) - have helped create more affordable and supportive housing for those in need," said Kerur. "Since 2005, over 8,500 of these units were created by non-profit and, to a lesser extent, co-operative housing organizations - showing that with government funding and support, communities can create more affordable homes."

In order to meet increasing rental housing demand, over 10,000 new rental units would need to be built each and every year for the next ten years. While the need is big, so is the commitment of the organizations that make up the membership of ONPHA and CHF Canada Ontario Region.

"We know that housing is a fundamental building block of people's lives," says Cooper. "Our members want to see senior governments take a balanced approach to the creation of more affordable housing for people across the income spectrum. By combining permanently affordable co-op and non-profit housing, private sector rental, renovation programs for existing housing stock and financial tools like rent supplements to fill vacant units, we can move people off housing waiting lists and into affordable homes."

"Where's Home?" can be found at or