Hamilton's rental housing affordability reaches critical level: report

News May 11, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s rental housing affordability levels have reached a critical point, with 20 per cent of tenants spending 50 per cent or more of their income on rent, a new study has found.

The Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive, cross-Canada database of rental housing statistics, shows Hamilton is the fifth most critical region for rental housing affordability in Ontario. The index, which uses the latest census figures, has been presented by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

Margie Carlson, deputy executive director for the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, said figures show 45 per cent of Hamilton’s rental households spend more than 30 per cent of household income on rent and utilities. That’s actually slightly below the provincial average of 46 per cent.

“To me, that’s pretty astonishing,” said Carlson. “Because 30 per cent is often a measure of affordability. We’ve used that measure in Canada for 40 or 50 years. It’s kind of an indication of spiraling poverty.”

Carlson is hopeful that all levels of government will move forward with plans to promote affordability in the coming months. She notes the federal Liberal government has announced plans for a Canada Housing Benefit. But the initiative isn’t expected to roll out until 2020.

“The housing benefit is supposed to be helping people that are already having an affordability challenge,” Carlson said. “I think that will help. But I think we will need more investments from both the province and the municipalities to deal with this crisis.”

Some Ontario municipalities are already making investments from the property tax base into a municipal housing allowance for subsidies to offset high rent costs.

The provincial Liberals recently passed measures through the Fair Housing Plan that extend rent control to all units, including those built after 1991, which were previously exempt from the cap. Rent increases are tied to inflation and are limited at 2.5 per cent, even if the rate of inflation is higher.

But Carlson said the provincial Liberals could look at relaxing rent controls in some areas of the province, in an effort to increase the supply of new units. Firm rent controls are really only needed in a few select markets, such as Toronto, she said.

“I think we need to be more sensitive geographically, particularly for rural markets,” said Carlson. “Developers will say something like, ‘We can’t develop if there’s rent controls.’ But if the rent control was moderated, or lifted, or more sensitive than the blunt hammer that just happened, then there might be more development happening in some of the areas where you need more rental housing.”

In the Stoney Creek area, more than 70 tenants in the Stoney Creek Towers highrise complex have withheld their May rent payments as part of a rent strike. The move is in response to landlord CLV Group's application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an above-guideline rent increase. The rent-striking tenants held a rally on April 29 and planned a second demonstration on Tuesday afternoon.

Arun Pathak, president of the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, said the previous provincial government plan to cap rent increases only for buildings built in 1991 and earlier, actually worked. This year, landlords were allowed to hike rents 1.8 per cent, the rate tied to inflation. Otherwise, landlords must apply for an above guideline increase.

Pathak said rents in today’s new buildings are often insufficient to cover the costs and the risks involved in development projects. Therefore, by extending rent controls to new buildings, Pathak said developers could be more likely to build condominiums rather than apartments.

“Usually apartment building costs go up more than any other sector of the economy,” said Pathak, who listed property taxes, water bills and labour costs as key examples.

Hamilton's rental housing affordability reaches critical level: report

One in five households spending half or more income on rent, utilities

News May 11, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s rental housing affordability levels have reached a critical point, with 20 per cent of tenants spending 50 per cent or more of their income on rent, a new study has found.

The Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive, cross-Canada database of rental housing statistics, shows Hamilton is the fifth most critical region for rental housing affordability in Ontario. The index, which uses the latest census figures, has been presented by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

Margie Carlson, deputy executive director for the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, said figures show 45 per cent of Hamilton’s rental households spend more than 30 per cent of household income on rent and utilities. That’s actually slightly below the provincial average of 46 per cent.

“To me, that’s pretty astonishing,” said Carlson. “Because 30 per cent is often a measure of affordability. We’ve used that measure in Canada for 40 or 50 years. It’s kind of an indication of spiraling poverty.”

Related Content

Carlson is hopeful that all levels of government will move forward with plans to promote affordability in the coming months. She notes the federal Liberal government has announced plans for a Canada Housing Benefit. But the initiative isn’t expected to roll out until 2020.

“The housing benefit is supposed to be helping people that are already having an affordability challenge,” Carlson said. “I think that will help. But I think we will need more investments from both the province and the municipalities to deal with this crisis.”

Some Ontario municipalities are already making investments from the property tax base into a municipal housing allowance for subsidies to offset high rent costs.

The provincial Liberals recently passed measures through the Fair Housing Plan that extend rent control to all units, including those built after 1991, which were previously exempt from the cap. Rent increases are tied to inflation and are limited at 2.5 per cent, even if the rate of inflation is higher.

But Carlson said the provincial Liberals could look at relaxing rent controls in some areas of the province, in an effort to increase the supply of new units. Firm rent controls are really only needed in a few select markets, such as Toronto, she said.

“I think we need to be more sensitive geographically, particularly for rural markets,” said Carlson. “Developers will say something like, ‘We can’t develop if there’s rent controls.’ But if the rent control was moderated, or lifted, or more sensitive than the blunt hammer that just happened, then there might be more development happening in some of the areas where you need more rental housing.”

In the Stoney Creek area, more than 70 tenants in the Stoney Creek Towers highrise complex have withheld their May rent payments as part of a rent strike. The move is in response to landlord CLV Group's application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an above-guideline rent increase. The rent-striking tenants held a rally on April 29 and planned a second demonstration on Tuesday afternoon.

Arun Pathak, president of the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, said the previous provincial government plan to cap rent increases only for buildings built in 1991 and earlier, actually worked. This year, landlords were allowed to hike rents 1.8 per cent, the rate tied to inflation. Otherwise, landlords must apply for an above guideline increase.

Pathak said rents in today’s new buildings are often insufficient to cover the costs and the risks involved in development projects. Therefore, by extending rent controls to new buildings, Pathak said developers could be more likely to build condominiums rather than apartments.

“Usually apartment building costs go up more than any other sector of the economy,” said Pathak, who listed property taxes, water bills and labour costs as key examples.

Hamilton's rental housing affordability reaches critical level: report

One in five households spending half or more income on rent, utilities

News May 11, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s rental housing affordability levels have reached a critical point, with 20 per cent of tenants spending 50 per cent or more of their income on rent, a new study has found.

The Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive, cross-Canada database of rental housing statistics, shows Hamilton is the fifth most critical region for rental housing affordability in Ontario. The index, which uses the latest census figures, has been presented by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

Margie Carlson, deputy executive director for the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, said figures show 45 per cent of Hamilton’s rental households spend more than 30 per cent of household income on rent and utilities. That’s actually slightly below the provincial average of 46 per cent.

“To me, that’s pretty astonishing,” said Carlson. “Because 30 per cent is often a measure of affordability. We’ve used that measure in Canada for 40 or 50 years. It’s kind of an indication of spiraling poverty.”

Related Content

Carlson is hopeful that all levels of government will move forward with plans to promote affordability in the coming months. She notes the federal Liberal government has announced plans for a Canada Housing Benefit. But the initiative isn’t expected to roll out until 2020.

“The housing benefit is supposed to be helping people that are already having an affordability challenge,” Carlson said. “I think that will help. But I think we will need more investments from both the province and the municipalities to deal with this crisis.”

Some Ontario municipalities are already making investments from the property tax base into a municipal housing allowance for subsidies to offset high rent costs.

The provincial Liberals recently passed measures through the Fair Housing Plan that extend rent control to all units, including those built after 1991, which were previously exempt from the cap. Rent increases are tied to inflation and are limited at 2.5 per cent, even if the rate of inflation is higher.

But Carlson said the provincial Liberals could look at relaxing rent controls in some areas of the province, in an effort to increase the supply of new units. Firm rent controls are really only needed in a few select markets, such as Toronto, she said.

“I think we need to be more sensitive geographically, particularly for rural markets,” said Carlson. “Developers will say something like, ‘We can’t develop if there’s rent controls.’ But if the rent control was moderated, or lifted, or more sensitive than the blunt hammer that just happened, then there might be more development happening in some of the areas where you need more rental housing.”

In the Stoney Creek area, more than 70 tenants in the Stoney Creek Towers highrise complex have withheld their May rent payments as part of a rent strike. The move is in response to landlord CLV Group's application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an above-guideline rent increase. The rent-striking tenants held a rally on April 29 and planned a second demonstration on Tuesday afternoon.

Arun Pathak, president of the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, said the previous provincial government plan to cap rent increases only for buildings built in 1991 and earlier, actually worked. This year, landlords were allowed to hike rents 1.8 per cent, the rate tied to inflation. Otherwise, landlords must apply for an above guideline increase.

Pathak said rents in today’s new buildings are often insufficient to cover the costs and the risks involved in development projects. Therefore, by extending rent controls to new buildings, Pathak said developers could be more likely to build condominiums rather than apartments.

“Usually apartment building costs go up more than any other sector of the economy,” said Pathak, who listed property taxes, water bills and labour costs as key examples.