Ontario's Growth Held Back By Lack of Affordable Housing

ONPHA launches new public engagement campaign that proves even if you can afford your home, the issue of affordable housing affects you.

TORONTO, May 7, 2013 /CNW/ - More than 156,000 Ontario households are waiting for access to safe, secure and affordable housing, but the lack of affordable housing not only affects them, it affects everyone in the province. Today the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) launched Housing Opens Doors, a public engagement campaign meant to encourage Ontarians to reconsider the issue of affordable housing in the province.

"People often assume the issue of affordable housing only impacts the homeless or those held on waiting lists, sometimes for as long as 10 years, to receive affordable housing support. The truth is, affordable housing is the home of all issues in this province," said Sharad Kerur. Executive Director, ONPHA. "Affordable housing means more opportunity, better healthcare and economic prosperity for everyone."

As part of the campaign, ONPHA will be assembling a series of dramatic travelling installations across Ontario to show how the lack of affordable housing has a ripple effect on all Ontarians. The fixture will feature a series of free-standing doors that gradually reveal the benefits of affordable housing and invite the public to show their commitment to affordable housing by ringing a doorbell. Each time a doorbell is rung it will contribute to a live tally on the Housing Opens Doors website. The goal is to achieve 156,358 rings of support, one for every Ontario household still waiting for an affordable home.

The first display is installed today at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, and will travel to public spaces in Windsor, Ottawa and North Bay in coming weeks.

"Ontario needs to do more to support affordable housing and start thinking of it as an investment that will improve our province," said Kerur. "We hope this program and the support we receive from Ontarians will help move this issue to the top of Ontario's agenda."

Students and Youth

Studies have shown that children's school performance suffers when parents are struggling with providing comfortable living conditions. Currently, more than one-in-five Ontario renters, many of whom are hard-working people, are paying more than 50 per cent of their income on rent. Families are making tough choices between paying rent and putting healthy meals on the table. There are currently more than 56,000 families with children on the waiting list for affordable housing in Ontario. Creating a stable home environment for children reduces stress and anxiety, resulting in positive impact on educational performance.

Economy and Workforce

With affordable housing, tenants are better equipped to maintain full-time or part-time jobs. With comfort and stability at home, tenants are better equipped to manage workplace stress; they are more focused and can afford childcare, meaning reduced absenteeism and increased employee retention.

Investing in affordable housing also improves our economy by creating thousands of construction jobs and creates a steady flow of work in the upkeep of existing buildings.

Healthcare

People without affordable homes are five-times more likely to be hospitalized than other members of the general public. Having safe, clean and affordable housing helps people avoid a number of health risks associated with poor living conditions. This is especially important for the more than 39,000 seniors on waiting lists for affordable homes. By fostering better physical and mental health, affordable housing decreases the burden on Ontario's health services.

"We see that when people have to make a choice between paying the rent and putting food on the table, it is usually food that is sacrificed," said Gail Nyberg, executive director, Daily Bread Food Bank. "More affordable housing would mean fewer people would have to make the choice between rent and food. This can have further impact on things like a children's education; when they're focusing on their hunger rather than their learning."

The "Housing Opens Doors" initiative is organized by ONPHA and has many supporters, including housing providers, tenants, sponsors, concerned citizens and organizations serving the public. Some supporters include Daily Bread Food Bank, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.

To to see videos that provide a quick overview on how affordable housing impacts all Ontarians, please visit here.

For almost 25 years, ONPHA has been the voice of non‐profit housing in Ontario. Our 771 member organizations operate more than 160,000 non‐profit housing units and provide housing for approximately 400,000 people such as the elderly, low‐income families with children, the working poor, victims of violence and abuse, people living with developmental disabilities, mental illness, HIV/AIDS or addictions and the formerly homeless/hard‐to‐house. ONPHAʹs members include municipal and private non‐profits of all sizes, with all types of funding.

SOURCE: Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA)

For further information:

Media contact:
Patrick Martins
Weber Shandwick on behalf of ONPHA
Office: (416) 642-7958
Cell: (416) 569-4302

Find ONPHA online:
www.onpha.on.ca
www.facebook.com/ONPHA
www.twitter.com/ONPHA