THE BELLEVILLE HOUSING CRISIS | CONT'D
Belleville is a city in Ontario with a population of approximately 50,000. The city has been plagued by housing shortages for years, and in 2023 it's still getting worse.
At the end of August, Belleville's shelter was at capacity.
The number of people on the waiting list for a bed in the Belleville Housing Authority's emergency shelter has grown to more than 300 people, and as many as 500 are expected at any given time.
In the last 10 years, rent in the city has risen an average of 3.8 percent annually. This is a much higher rate than inflation or incomes, which have only increased by 1.9 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. The majority of this increase can be attributed to the housing crisis; however, there are still some other factors at play that contribute to rising rents in Belleville such as high demand for rental properties and low vacancy rates
In 2018, 1,800 families were on a waiting list for housing with affordability options. That's one out of every three households in the city—and they're not getting any younger. With no money to pay rent and no social support system in place to help them find an apartment or home they can afford, many are stuck living at friends' houses or staying up all night long to stay warm and out of the cold.
The only solution: build more affordable housing! But how do you do that when there aren't enough resources available? And what if you don't even know where these resources might be coming from? Well then...you're going to need some luck!
In 2018, the average sale price of a home in Belleville was $350,000.
The average sale price of a home in Belleville was $353,000 in 2019. This means that if you wanted to buy an average-sized home with an average amount of land and amenities, you would have to spend over three grand more than you did last year—and no wonder!
In fact, according to recent statistics from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), the national average sale price for homes across Canada rose by two percent last year compared with 2018. In contrast, sales in Canada's largest city — Toronto — decreased by about four percent during this period (to reach just under 1 million transactions).
According to CMHC data, housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of a household's before-tax income.
When you hear the term affordable housing, what do you think? Is it affordable if it costs more than 30% of your income? Or if it costs less than 30% of your income?
But there's a problem: in Canada, the average household income is $90 000 per year. So when we say that something is "affordable," what does that mean for people who are living on much lower incomes or have very low incomes and can't afford to spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs?
The CMHC's guideline for determining whether or not something qualifies as "affordable" under this definition is based on an assumption that most Canadians would consider being able to afford an apartment at market rent (which varies depending on location) as being within their means. However—and this may surprise most Canadians—the average price per square foot paid by households across Canada doesn't necessarily reflect the actual cost they would pay when renting an equivalent unit with comparable amenities like utilities included in rent.*
Belleville has 1.7 affordable units for every 10 low-income households, compared to 2.2 in Kingston and 5 in Ottawa.
The number of affordable units is too low.
The number of low-income households is too high.
The number of affordable units needs to be increased, and the number of low-income households needs to be reduced through support programs.
For those who do have an address, it may not be a safe one — there are insufficient landlord inspections and no fines for landlords who refuse to make repairs. Tenants have the right to a safe and decent place to live, but in practice, many landlords don't provide that.
Landlords must provide information about their property and tenants' rights under Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act (RTTA). However, many renters are unaware of their rights until they encounter problems like mold or flooding from faulty plumbing systems. If you're renting from a private landlord or condo corporation, look up your building's management company on the Internet; these companies should have websites listing how they handle complaints about maintenance issues such as faulty heaters or leaky roofs.
The shelter has been full quite frequently as many people have nowhere else to go and are living on the street or in abandoned houses. This problem is made worse by high rents and low wages—the latter of which forces many working-class families into poverty.
More affordable housing is needed in Belleville. More support is needed for those most vulnerable among us. Support needs to be provided for those who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, and/or afraid of losing their homes due to an unexpected emergency situation.
In addition more support is needed for seniors and people with disabilities who may not be able to live independently on their own anymore because they cannot afford it anymore due to rapidly rising prices, or other circumstances such as illness or disability that prevent them from working full-time jobs outside their home making it difficult for them to make ends meet each month. These supports and resources would become available only if they did not have sufficient resources left over after paying all bills including utilities but also other bills like groceries etcetera...
Belleville's housing crisis is a complicated issue. There are many factors contributing to the city's affordable housing shortage and what can be done about it is unclear at this time. But one thing is clear: there needs to be more affordable housing in Belleville and more support for those most vulnerable among us. The city will continue working towards finding solutions while also raising awareness about these issues by providing information through brochures, and presentations at schools or community meetings.
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