Did you know that 4.9 million Canadians live in poverty? At Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, we believe that building more affordable housing for hardworking families and individuals is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. The United Way’s It’s More Than Poverty report states that the root causes of poverty are varied, and shows that fewer Canadians have stable employment opportunities. This can lead to a dependence on social services, the unlikelihood in covering health care costs, and facing more uncertainty in their career path.
According to Canada Without Poverty, it costs Canadians billions of dollars every year to tackle the problem. So how do we break the cycle of poverty? Affordable housing is an excellent place to start. In fact, studies show that when people have a safe and affordable home, society greatly benefits. The following are just a few of the benefits of building more affordable housing.
Fewer People Need Food Banks
In March 2016, 863,492 Canadians visited food banks across Canada, with children making up over a third of that group. Of this group dependent on food banks, more than half are working. Housing costs are the primary factor causing so many people to rely on food banks, and when 50% or more of your gross income goes to paying rent, disaster is never far away. No person (living in a country as wealthy as Canada) should have to make the choice between buying groceries or paying rent. When Habitat for Humanity partners with low-income working families, their reliance on food banks is reduced because the percentage of income paying for housing is lower.
Healthcare Costs Are Lowered
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada is expected to spend $242 billion on health care. That number equals about 11.5% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Poverty costs up to 20 per cent of all healthcare spending.
A CMHC Survey of Habitat for Humanity home buyers reported the following:
-78% rated their own health and the health of their families as ‘better now’ than in their previous housing.
-Over 70% reported improvements on a range of indicators (such as reduced colds and flu allergies, asthma symptoms and stress)
-31% said less frequent visits to the doctor
-25% reported fewer days of work missed because of illness
-Children also increased their participation in activities outside school
Affordable housing is critical to reducing the healthcare budget, and redirecting that money would be beneficial to other programs.
The benefits to the communities where Habitat for Humanity homes are located are significant. Habitat for Humanity’s model of affordable homeownership generates $175,000 in community benefits, per partnered family. In 2014, Habitat for Humanity built 221 homes across Canada, which works out to $39 million in societal benefits, meaning that every $1 invested generates $4 in return. You can check out a list of our current building projects on our website.
How to Get Involved
If you would like to be counted among the Canadians working to bring affordable homeownership to low-income working families while helping to reduce food bank use and lowering health care costs, be sure to check out Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s website for more information.