What happened to 55,000 low-income rental households in Ontario? Between the late 1990s and the early 2000s they simply disappeared from the census.
A new report from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada suggests that more than enough people to populate Kingston or Guelph simply retreated into shared or non-traditional housing arrangements in the face of unaffordable rents.
That could mean renting a room, a basement, moving in with relatives, or sharing a dwelling with more than one family. For a few, that could also mean homelessness.
The period coincides with severe cuts to social assistance by the Harris government.
Crowded and insecure living arrangements are an important factor in the social determinants of health. The cheapest accommodation often means an unhealthy building desperately in need of repair.
Households that remain in more traditional units are forced to make the choice to pay rent over food and other basics.
“The longer households remain in unaffordable housing, the harder it is on their health, their long-term career prospects, their children’s education, and our province’s future,” the report states.