Give us shelter!

Ontario housing policies de-house 345,000 Ontarians
March 14, 2003

TORONTO--Government housing policies are de-housing low-income, moderate and even middle-income renter households instead of giving them access to good quality, affordable homes, according to a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

State of the Crisis, 2003: Ontario housing policies are de-housing Ontarians, by Michael Shapcott, documents the legislative and budgetary changes to provincial housing policies and the effects of those changes on Ontario's 1.4 million rental households.

Between 1993-4 and 1999-00, Ontario cut $303.8 million in housing spending-one-quarter of its overall housing budget-and led all the provinces and territories in the dollar amount of housing cuts in the late 1990s. Since 1995, the Ontario government has cut $879.1 million from provincial housing programs.

According to Shapcott, total social housing losses in Ontario since 1995 have been 82,900 homes (enough housing for 224,000 women, men and children); and total private rental losses in Ontario from 1996 to 2001 have been 44,780 units (enough housing for 121,000 women, men and children). Currently, the overall provincial vacancy rate-more than three-quarters of the province-is still in the danger zone at 2.7% (above 3% is considered healthy).

Meanwhile, with the elimination of legislative controls, rents continue to rise, jeopardizing shelter particularly for the province's 295,000 poorest households. The average rent in Ontario was $836 in 2002-three times higher than the amount that the poorest renter households can actually afford, and almost double the amount that moderate-income renter households can afford.

"The cost of subsidizing co-op and non-profit projects is far less than subsidizing private investors, developers and landlords," concludes Shapcott. "Consequently, the Ontario Alternative Budget 2003 calls for sustained investment over five years, generating 75,000 new affordable rental units and rent supplements for 200,000 low- and moderate-income households."