Lack of Affordable Housing in Health Unit Region Shows Needs for Solutions
High housing costs and a limited supply of rental units are proving a double whammy in efforts to ensure local residents have access to a stable, secure place to call home.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is urging action about the lack of safe and affordable housing in the area, especially given its link to public health. Local residents are being asked to lobby all levels of government to build more affordable housing units. People are also encouraged to be open and welcoming to affordable housing developments and rental units being renovated or built in their neighbourhoods.
The Health Unit’s call to action comes in the leadup to National Housing Day this Friday (November 22) and in the wake of statistics that show:
- In Northumberland County, the average house price cost is just over $454,000. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people, especially when the average household income in the area is $91,000 per year. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Northumberland is on average between $1,300 to $1,500 per month – if you can find it. With a vacancy rate below one per cent, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.
- In the City of Kawartha Lakes, the average price for a house in Lindsay is $433,881, according to the November 2019 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) housing report. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment is more than $1,450 per month in City of Kawartha Lakes – if you can find it. With a very low vacancy rate at less than one per cent, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.
- In Haliburton County, the average local house cost is approximately $247,950 for a non-waterfront property, according to local realtors. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment is around $1,450 per month in Haliburton County – if you can find it. With a very low vacancy rate, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.
Stable housing plays a key role in a person’s health, according to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). A safe, secure place to live can help people gain employment, enjoy food security, and access social services and health care. Stable housing can also help people who are recovering from mental illness and addiction.
“These findings are worrisome because they highlight the lack of affordable housing in our community – both to buy and rent – and the toll it can take on people’s health,” says Kristina Nairn, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.
Older adults are at higher risk of living in poor quality housing, as they are often on fixed incomes and have complex health needs.
“A stable living environment is so important for our health, because without it, we fall into a vicious cycle of problems,” adds Mary-Lou Mills, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “If people do not have adequate housing, they are less likely to be able to find work and earn money. Without enough income, people cannot afford food and other necessities of life which are essential for personal wellbeing.”
The Health Unit estimates:
- 12 per cent of residents live in poverty in Northumberland (the rate for children living in poverty is higher at 16 per cent).
- 13.1 per cent of Kawartha Lakes residents live in poverty (the poverty rate for children 17 years of age and younger is higher at 16.5 per cent).
- 17.2 per cent of Haliburton County residents live in poverty (the poverty rate for children 17 years of age and younger is higher at 22.9 per cent).
Often, social assistance, disability programs, seniors’ fixed pensions, and low-paying jobs do not provide enough to meet the basic needs of housing and food, Mills adds.
For more information, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1252 or ext. 2304.
For media inquiries, contact:
Kristina Nairn, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1252,
or Mary Lou Mills, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2304