Thunder Bay desperately seeking affordable apartments

    TORONTO, March 15 /CNW/ - There are not enough apartments to rent in
Thunder Bay and those that are available are unaffordable for the average
    These are the findings of "Where's Home? 2006: A Picture of Housing Need
in Ontario." The report is produced by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing
Association (ONPHA) and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF).
    "It's a volatile and disturbing situation," says ONPHA President Deborah
Schlichter. "The people who drive this province's economy can't afford to live
here now, even if they can find an apartment. And we have not built for the
    The report shows that between 1995 and 2005, there has been a net loss of
13,000 rental housing units in Ontario. This is in part due to the demolition
of rental housing, as well as the conversion of many units to condominiums. It
also reflects the lack of rental housing.
    "Housing policy in Ontario has been woefully short-sighted. It has failed
to prepare us for the lean years during the fat ones," says Joseph Zebrowski,
President of the Ontario Council, Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada.
"During the powerful economic surge of the past few years, it has failed to
develop sufficient rental housing for our current needs, let alone for future
    The report showed that vacancy rates for private apartments dropped in
64% of 22 markets surveyed across the province. In Thunder Bay, the rate
dropped to 4.6% in 2005 from 5.0% in 2004.
    The report was based on data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing
Federation's Rental Market Survey, conducted in October, 2005. Overall
Ontario's vacancy rate fell from 4.1% in 2004 to 3.8% in 2005. Recently
released data shows it fell to 3.4% in 2006.
    The survey also highlighted the high cost of renting in four sample
markets (Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Sudbury). Based on the average income
of nine different job types (elementary teachers, carpenters, secretaries,
labourers, data entry clerks, retails salespeople, cooks, food servers and
cashiers) the report determined that most workers who are employed in the
service industry or unskilled manufacturing cannot afford the average rent in
their community.
    For example, a retail salesperson in Sudbury earned approximately $19,451
in 2005 and could therefore afford to pay rent of $486 per month. However, the
average one-bedroom apartment in Sudbury rents for $544, which means a single
sales clerk would spend 34% of his or her income on rent.
    "And social housing can't fill this gap. These people can't wait for five
to ten years," says Schlichter, noting that there are nearly a quarter of a
million people (122,426 households) on the province's waiting list.
    In Toronto, registrants must wait for 8.5 years for a home; in Peel
Region, it is a seven to ten year wait. The vast majority (80%) of households
who apply for social housing have annual household incomes of less than
    The report also shows that Canada continues to lag behind other developed
nations in terms of its percentage of social housing. An estimated 5% of
Canada's housing stock is social or non-market rental housing owned and
operated by a public, non-profit or cooperative organization. Only two nations
have a smaller proportion of social housing stock: New Zealand at 4.5% and the
United States at 2%. Netherlands has the highest proportion at 35% followed by
Sweden and the United Kingdom at 22% each.
    "ONPHA and CHF Canada members house a wide spectrum of people who
contribute enormously to this province," says Zebrowski. "We cannot continue
to neglect the housing needs of our society."
    "Affordable housing builds healthy communities," adds Schlichter.
"Rectifying this rental housing shortage is the foundation for a healthy
    "Where's Home?" can be found on or

For further information:

For further information: ONPHA's David Peters at (416) 948-3260 (Cell)
or (416) 927-9144 ext. 115; ONPHA's Sharad Kerur at (416) 723-2835 (Cell) or
(416) 927-9144 ext. 102; CHF Canada-Ontario Region's Harvey Cooper (416)
809-5048 (Cell) or (416) 366-1711 ext. 237

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Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA)

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