Metro News: ACORN pushes for 20 per cent housing allowance hike

Posted March 17, 2015

Ninety-five dollars would go a long way for Ray Noyse.
The 59-year-old Ottawa resident says he could transform his life if the province would agree to increase the housing allowance for those receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are calling for a 20 per cent hike to their housing allowance, as the current $479 isn’t enough for people like Noyse to even cover rental costs.
Members of ACORN are staging a rally Wednesday at noon at the Nelson Mandela Monument to push the government to increase the housing allowance for people like Noyse.
“I simply don’t ever have enough money for the things that I need and for the things that I want, I always have too little money,” said Noyse, who pays $600 per month for a bachelor’s apartment. “If I ever get any of the things I want instead of the things I need, every dollar hurts.”
If the province increased the funding, it would give him $95 extra to play with and Noyse said he would use it to connect to the world through a smartphone. He would have Internet, email, a camera and everything else most of us take for granted.
Noyse has been suffering from Bipolar disorder since 1997 – an illness that halted his bright career in theology. He went through 10 years of severe spiraling depression and although he is doing better mentally these days, he still struggles to make ends meet.
Through ODSP, Noyes gets a total of $1,089 per month to live on. It’s supposed to cover everything from rent and heat, clothing, food and other personal items. But for Noyes and many others, it’s simply not enough.
“I have had holes in my shoes for two years,” he added.
It’s even tougher for Michelle Walrond who is permanently disabled and pays $900 per month in rent. While she could find a cheaper apartment, she says living in poor living conditions would “exacerbate” her health. “Normally, those places are not well heated or over heated, they have bugs and all kinds of other stresses,” she said. “That would make my health worse and we would end up paying for my health problems.”
After paying rent, Walrond is left with just over $200 for food, clothing, gas, insurance and anything else she can afford. No going out, no smoking, no drinking – it’s just not in the cards for her.
Ministry of Community and Social Services Spokeswoman Gloria Er-Chua told Metro that the government is committed to, “reforming social assistance” and said the ministry’s 2014 budget called for a one per cent hike for those relying on ODSP.
“Our recent investment in ODSP means that a single person or family receiving ODSP who rents or owns their accommodation will see an increase of $12 per month or $144 a year to help with the cost of food, clothing and personal needs,” said Er-Chua. “A family where both adults have disabilities will see an additional $288 a year.”
She added that the province has also invested $220 million in affordable housing funding for Ottawa since 2003 – cash that translated into 1,418 new affordable housing units, 62 households receiving down payment assistance, and 2,680 evictions being prevented.
Article by Trevor Greenway for Metro News Ottawa