Hamilton Spectator: Skyrocketing rents ‘absolutely unsustainable’ for Hamilton tenants
Posted September 19, 2022
Hamiltonians looking to lease a two-bedroom apartment are staring down rent increases of more than 20 per cent since last summer, a new report has found.
Two-bedroom flats in Steeltown are now costing tenants an average of $2,167 a month, according to a national rent report from property listing service Rentals.ca. That’s an increase of about $384 or 21.5 per cent from last August’s average of $1,783
Bullpen Research & Consulting, the residential real estate advisory firm that crunches the numbers for Rentals.ca, attributed some of the swell to the state of the country’s housing market.
Earlier in September, the Bank of Canada raised the key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point which in turn has “further dissuaded” would-be home buyers, according to a press release from Ben Myers, president of the real estate firm.
Myers said that dissuasion has translated to “even higher demand in a rental market already crowded from booming immigration, students returning to university, and workers moving back to city centres.”
The rent for one-bedroom apartments in the city has also continued to rise, with units costing an average of $1,696 a month, marking a nearly 16-per-cent jump from August 2021.
Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, told The Spectator the rising cost of rent in the city is “gobbling up” a growing proportion of Hamiltonians’ incomes, with some putting upwards of 80 per cent towards shelter.
“That’s absolutely unsustainable,” said Cooper. “This presents so many challenges for people just trying to afford food, keep their utilities on and support their children in day-to-day activities.”
The situation only worsens for those who rely on social assistance programs such as Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Cooper said the average two-bedroom apartment would cost nearly $1,000 more than the total monthly monetary support offered to those on OW.
“There are no units out there for people who are on fixed-incomes,” he said. “The numbers just don’t add up.”
Dayna Sparkes, representative for the east Hamilton chapter of ACORN, said the rental situation in the city has left tenants “panicked,” leaving many to live in sub-par conditions or pay rent that exceeds their budget.
And as a result, some renters manage to find a place, but face the looming possibility of losing their housing.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Sparkes. “And some people have ended up on the street, unfortunately.”
Cooper said tackling the housing crisis must be the main issue for the municipal election, pointing to the need for inclusionary zoning for future developments as well as the creation of a permanent rent bank to ensure folks stayed housed.
“We know that it costs far more, not only to the individual but to taxpayers and to society as well, to deal with homelessness,” added Cooper.
Rentals.ca’s latest rent rankings, published with residential real estate advisory firm Bullpen Research and Consulting Inc., are the average of all monthly listings on the website.
They include basement apartments, rental apartments, condos, townhouses, semi-detached and single-detached homes.
Article by Fallon Hewitt for the Hamilton Spectator