Having three meals a day, with a snack or two in between, is a routine most of us take for granted.
For families in need, daily life is a delicate balance of making ends meet. This means having enough financial resources to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, warm clothes in the winter, and addressing the myriad of expenses that come with the typical day to day.
According to the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), 12.6 per cent of Canadians suffer from food insecurity – the uncertainty and insufficiency of food availability and access due to resource constraints*. This means that spending for food will sometimes have to take the back seat to other costs of living, like making rent or paying the mortgage.
Studies by PROOF, a food insecurity policy research program, show that almost half of food insecure households are those with children, so that approximately 1 in 6 Canadian children are affected. Single mother households are particularly vulnerable. Further, renters make up two-thirds of food insecure households.
The domino effect caused by food insecurity is staggering. Imagine trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from, on top of all the other problems that crop up in daily life. Beyond the hunger pangs, this stressor is linked to poor mental health and even vulnerability to chronic disease in children and adults. This, in turn, puts additional strain on the healthcare system.
Since housing costs are an integral part of the equation, accounting for huge portion of household spending, this is where Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga can help.
Habitat for Humanity aims to make home ownership accessible for all families in need, this includes seniors, single-parent families, and for survivors of abuse. We believe everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live.
At the core of Habitat’s housing model is the commitment to ensure that families in need have access to housing that is affordable. Housing is affordable when mortgage installments take up no more than 30 per cent of a household’s before-tax income. In our model, there is no down payment required and payments are interest-free, all over 30 years. This provides stability for the families, with no income shocks that will force them to choose between keeping the lights on or having dinner. Habitat homeowners even report a 60 per cent reduction in usage of food bank services after moving into their Habitat home.
Partner families also complete education sessions to teach them everything from home economics to home maintenance, to the fine print of insurance and legalities of home ownership to prepare them for the next chapter of their lives.
Lastly, partner families also render 500 volunteer hours as part of their housing grant. Friends and families can help complete up to 200 hours of this requirement, giving them a chance to give back and be instrumental in giving the next family their much-needed break in life.
If you believe in building more desperately needed affordable housing, donate today at habitathm.ca/donate
*Wunderlich and Norwood, 2006: 49