Is your neighbourhood affordable?
This election season, ONPHA has been working hard to ensure that housing issues gain traction on the national stage. Last month, we helped create the Canadian Rental Housing Index, an interactive map that displays average rental costs and incomes in communities across Canada. By giving voters detailed information about rental housing and incomes in their riding, we hope to see more voters push for increased federal investment in housing.
A partnership between ONPHA, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and housing organizations across Canada, the Index was launched on September 10 at a media event held in Toronto. Both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star were quick to pick up the story, with features on the Index running in both national papers. ONPHA Executive Director Sharad Kerur was featured in a televised interview with journalist Amanda Lang on CBC’s The Exchange, and his editorial on the importance of affordable housing in building a strong middle class appeared in the Huffington Post Canada.
The Index demonstrates that affordable rental housing is a concern across Canada, and in Ontario specifically. Out of all provinces and territories, Ontario has the third-largest number of households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent (after British Columbia and Nova Scotia). One in five renter households in Ontario spend more than half of their pre-tax income on housing, placing them at risk of homelessness.
The Index also shows that high rental costs are not just a problem in urban areas like downtown Toronto. Milton and Vaughan, for example, have some of the highest average rental costs in Canada. Because the Index provides data down to the federal riding level, users can look up their own community. At the neighbourhood level, the results are also concerning: the top five most unaffordable ridings in Canada are all located in Ontario, with the riding of Markham-Unionville topping the list.
All of these indicators show that it is time for the federal government to step up and address the need for affordable rental housing across the country. As Sharad Kerur noted at the launch event, “The next federal government must be committed to making sure all families have a secure place to call home at a cost they can afford.” ONPHA hopes that residents will use the Canadian Rental Housing Index to ask their local candidates what they will do if elected to increase the availability of affordable housing.