More renters spending more on rent
An updated housing and homelessness plan for the Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes shows that people who rent living accommodations are spending more and more of their income on those accommodations.
In November, county councillors heard a presentation on and accepted an updated housing and homelessness plan for the municipalities from Hope Lee, manager of human services for the City of Kawartha Lakes. The City of Kawartha Lakes is the social services manager for Haliburton County, overseeing programming and administering funding.
The plan, entitled Building Stronger Communities, lays out housing goals and strategies for housing for the years 2020 through 2029.
Housing is considered to be affordable if housing costs – rent or mortgage payments – consume less than 30 per cent of a household’s gross income. The plan shows that between 2011 and 2016, the percentage of renters in Haliburton County spending more than 30 per cent of their income grew from 38.7 to 49.5, meaning that almost half of renters in the county are living in housing that is not considered affordable for them.
“The average market rent for an occupied unit has increased approximately 20 per cent since 2010 while vacancy rates decrease,” the plan reads.
For Haliburton County, a low-income rental household, one with an income at or below the 30th percentile, is considered one with an income of $21,000 or less per year. An affordable rent for that household would mean a monthly rent of $520 or less. A low-income home-owning household is considered one with an income $39,400 or less per year, and an affordable house price for that household would be a home costing $139,800 or less. A middle-income rental household, one with an income between the 30th and 60th percentile, is one with an income between $21,000 and $36,600 per year, with affordable monthly rent considered between $520 and $920. A middle-income home-owning household is one with an income between $39,400 and $72,300, with affordable house prices between $139,800 and $259,500.
Combined, there are nearly 1,700 households on the waiting list for subsidized housing in the county and city, a 375 per cent increase since 2013. Of more than 1,000 subsidized rental units in the two municipalities, fewer than 100 vacate annually, meaning the average wait time is now more than four years long, and households applying today may wait as long as seven years.
According to a homelessness survey conducted by the city, the number of chronically homeless people in Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes combined hovers around 60, chronic homelessness meaning that someone is without a place of their own to live for six or more months in a year.
The survey asked respondents what the most important thing for the city to know was, regarding housing and homelessness programs and services. The top responses were affordable rents, preferably geared to income; the lack of affordable housing options; having rent caps or rent controls; assistance for people to manage existing housing; and public transportation.
In terms of housing targets, three models were developed and presented to the councils of Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, respectively. Those models were essentially the status quo, which is not meeting housing needs, a middle option that would not eliminate housing needs but seek to improve the availability gap, or an “ideal” option, which should meet forecasted housing needs in the next decade.
“The recommended target was the ideal model as it provides direction and supports planning to identify how affordable housing demand can be met over the next 10 years,” reads a report from Lee.
Both councils endorsed the ideal model in the fall, with the council for the City of Kawartha Lakes pledging to create 1,280 units by 2029, and Haliburton County 750 units by 2029. Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt has suggested the county look at creating a housing task force at the upper-tier level.