[Hpn] Emergency national housing summit needed -- Bleak winter for renters, new numbers offer no relief

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 2 Dec 2003 11:56:22 -0500

National Housing and Homelessness Network

National Housing and Homelessness Network

For immediate release
December 2, 2003

Emergency national housing summit needed:

Bleak winter for renters, new numbers offer no relief

Canada's nation-wide affordable housing crisis continues to grow to
desperate levels despite new rental vacancy numbers from Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation. The country's 1.5 million renter households (more than
four million women, men and children) paying 30% or more of their income on
rent face a bleak winter and won't find any relief in the latest rental
market survey. "The new numbers give a limited snapshot," says Michael
Shapcott, Co-Chair of the National Housing and Homelessness Network. "CMHC
measures so-called conventional rental units, which make up less than half
the overall rental housing sector. But even so, the latest numbers confirm
how bad the affordable housing crisis has become."

Last year, CMHC reported that rents in some areas, such as Toronto (with the
largest tenant population in the country), had reached "price-sensitive
thresholds" - in other words, low and moderate-income households were being
squeezed out of their homes. This year, CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan
reports: "At the most affordable level, there is still an inadequate supply
of units. Therefore, there is a need to add to the affordable housing
 stock." The supply shortage is especially acute in metropolitan areas like
Toronto. The latest CMHC  survey reports a slight uptick in the vacancy rate
for Toronto, but the overall number of empty units in Toronto (11,484 units)
is still only 13% of the 90,000 households on the region's social housing
waiting lists.

In addition to lack of supply, existing rental units in Toronto are too
expensive for low, moderate or middle-income renter households. Tenants need
an annual income of $42,000 to afford the average market rent of $1,040.
Yet, more than half of Toronto's renter households have annual incomes of
less than $40,000 (that's 326,800 households out of a total of 601,035
households). The Ontario government has just announced that the minimum wage
will be increased to $7.15. "A renter household working full-time at the
minimum wage would have just $6.57 per day after paying their rent to cover
the cost of food, utilities, transportation, winter coats and other
necessities, not to mention taxes," says Shapcott. "Toronto is bad, but the
crisis isn't much better anywhere else in the country."

The National Housing and Homelessness Network is calling on federal,
provincial and territorial housing ministers to convene an emergency
national housing summit as soon as possible to break the logjam around the
November 2001 Affordable Housing Framework Agreement and to agree on a new,
fully-funded, comprehensive national housing strategy.

For information:            Michael Shapcott       416-978-1260 (office)