Affordable Housing is Essential to the COVID-19 Recovery
This is the complete article written by Habitat for Humanity HMD CEO Eden Grodzinski about National Housing Day that was recently published by Inside Halton.
Since the onset of the pandemic, most of us have been spending a lot more time at home. Rarely has the nature of these homes been more important, as they became our entire world, doubling up as workplaces, schools, and gyms.
COVID-19 brought to light the stark inequalities with housing in Canada. Some of our neighbours endured lockdowns in large homes with plenty of living space, landscaped gardens and pools, while others struggled in unsafe and overcrowded conditions with no outdoor areas.
We know that safe and decent housing has the power to change individual lives and transform the prosperity of our communities, by supporting stable employment, better physical and mental health outcomes, and increased access to educational opportunities. But all too frequently for low-income families, it does not.
Since March 2020, we witnessed how poor housing conditions, such as overcrowding and high density, were associated with greater case counts and the spread of COVID-19. Some of those hit hardest by the pandemic are our most vulnerable populations.
Did you know?
- 1 in 10 are in Core Housing Need. Going into the COVID-19 pandemic, 17,500 households in Halton Region (9.4%) had at least one major housing problem relating to overcrowding, affordability or poor-quality (Community Development Halton, 2018).
- Highest rental rates in the province. In 2020, the average apartment rental rate in Halton Region was $1,582 – the highest of all regional market rates in Ontario, including Toronto (CMHC Rental Market Survey, 2020).
- Housing prices have become unattainable. The average resale price of a home in Halton Region was $913,615 in 2020 (Real Property Solutions House Price Index), and it has only continued to go up. According to mortgage calculations done by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, this option is affordable for the top 10th percentile of all income earners (i.e. households earning $267,000 or more per annum). Ask yourself – will your children be able to afford a house in Halton Region?
- Workers earning less than $20.75 per hour are living in financial stress. Earlier this month, the Ontario Living Wage Network published the 2021 living wage rates, which represent the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs (food, housing, and transportation). At $20.75 per hour, Halton’s is the second highest in the province, driven in large part by housing costs.
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin (Habitat HMD) is working hard to address the urgent need for innovative solutions across the housing spectrum, from building Tiny Homes in collaboration with our Indigenous partners to creating new equity building and affordable homeownership options for families. In recognition of National Housing Day (November 22nd), Habitat HMD is going “Beyond the Build”, and we want you to join us.
What does it mean to go Beyond the Build?
Going Beyond the Build means recognizing that everyone has the right to a safe and decent place to live, and that it benefits all of us when they do.
It means mobilizing around the people, organizations and ideas that will drive solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis and the creation of a robust and healthy housing system.
It means calling on all levels of governments to prioritize decisions that can provide safe and decent housing for the almost 1.7 million families in this country who face core housing needs.
On National Housing Day, show your support for increasing the supply of affordable housing in our communities, which is essential to a successful social and economic recovery from COVID-19.
- Shop. Come visit one of our Restores. We have four locations – Burlington, Milton, Mississauga and Orangeville. Each one is unique, offering a wide range of new and gently used household furnishings, appliances, building supplies, home decor and clothing.
- Volunteer. There are so many ways you can get involved and help build a better future for your community. We have opportunities for students, individuals and corporate groups. Learn more at https://habitathm.ca/volunteer/
- Donate money. 100% of every dollar you give goes to support our building programs.
- Donate gently used, re-salable goods. Instead of tossing your unwanted household items and clothes, donate them to Habitat. You will help save the planet and help us create affordable housing. Visit https://habitathm.ca/donate/#donate-stuff for more information.
- Identify land opportunities. Help us identify any vacant, abandoned or under-used land or properties that could be repurposed for affordable housing.
- Say Yes! In My Backyard (YIMBY). Saying “Yes, in my backyard,” is about welcoming diversity and inclusion, and accepting our community’s collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.
- Join the conversation. On National Housing Day, show your support by pledging to go Beyond the Build with us. Sign up here to show your support for affordable housing and to learn more about how we can ensure those living in Canada have access to safe and decent housing, and the opportunities that brings.
Everyone deserves a decent place to call home. Together, we can build a stronger future for the next generation.
About Habitat HMD
Founded in 1999 as Habitat for Humanity Halton, the organization merged with Habitat for Humanity Mississauga in 2015. In 2021, Habitat Halton-Mississauga expanded its service area to include Dufferin County. Working with individual donors, government, corporate, community and construction partners – and channeling the selfless dedication of legions of volunteers – Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin is innovatively providing affordable housing solutions for the communities it serves. It is part of Habitat for Humanity Canada – a national, charitable organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. Nationally and internationally, Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable shelter. Established in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is currently the leading provider of affordable housing globally with operations in more than 70 countries. www.habitathm.ca.