Posted May 13, 2021
London has to focus not just on building more housing, but on creating new units with “deep affordability” to serve those priced out of the market, a city councillor said Tuesday.
Londoners with the lowest incomes face increased pressure as they try to find affordable places to live.
Only 30 units are within reach for every 1,000 renters making less than $36,000, according to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.
City hall needs to step up, Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer said at a Tuesday meeting of the community and protective services committee.
“We’re going to have to be aiming for pretty deep levels of affordability to meet that need,” he said. “We’re going to have to really work at it to achieve that.”
Two out of five households that rent have incomes below $36,000, CMHC data shows.
For higher-income renters, however, the market is also tight.
Only 181 available units are deemed “affordable,” based on 30 per cent of gross income, for people making more than $74,000.
Tenant advocacy group ACORN held a protest outside city hall Tuesday to demand relief options, such as a rent bank, for those who aren’t eligible for existing supports.
Rent banks provide homeless and people on the margins with first and last month rent. They can also be used to top up monthly income to meet rent.
ACORN is also pushing for a program targeted to low- and moderate-income tenants struggling amid the pandemic.
At this year’s state of the city address, Mayor Ed Holder pledged to wipe out chronic homelessness in London within five years by building 3,000 affordable housing units and city council later backed that pledge.
There are 141 new affordable units underway at three sites, including a modular housing project that uses prefabricated materials.
Another 300 affordable units are planned for the old South Street hospital site, but reaching Holder’s 3,000-unit target will take 600 new affordable units a year.
In the meantime, the problem is growing.
“We’re seeing a lot of people being pushed out of home ownership that can’t afford to obtain their first home, which is going to . . . drive up those rents,” Helmer said.
Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis noted some recent successes in London’s housing battles.
He cited a new youth shelter, run by Youth Opportunities Unlimited, and the Winter Interim Solution to Homelessness program that housed dozens of people in two pop-up shelters.
Article by Megan Stacey for the London Free Press