Improve Rent protections, Don’t Cut Housing Supports
Date: Thursday, June 7, 2012 | Category: Press Release
(Toronto) June 7, 2012 - Tenant and anti-poverty advocates appeared before two Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario today, urging MPPs to better protect housing affordability and stop harmful cuts to programs that help prevent homelessness.
The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, to express grave concern about the elimination of the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) and Home Repairs Benefit (HRB) contained in the 2012 provincial budget.
“The Community Start-up provides funding once every two years to Ontarians on social assistance who are at risk of losing their housing. The HRB ensures that people aren’t living in homes in states of serious disrepair,” said Mary Todorow, policy analyst for ACTO. “These cuts will result in more hardship and homelessness in Ontario.”
“The loss of these benefits will hurt many people across Ontario – people who live far below the poverty line on the incomes provided by OW and ODSP,” said Jennefer Laidley, policy analyst for ISAC. “Their incomes do not allow any wiggle room for them to save for these costs. The fact that they rely so heavily on food banks is evidence that their monthly benefits are insufficient to meet their daily needs, let alone paying for large expenses like the ones covered by these benefits.”
ACTO also appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy which was considering Bill 19 – Residential Tenancies Amendment Act. The proposed law sets out guidelines for rent increases in private market rental units in Ontario, and will allow for annual increases between 1 and 2.5 per cent.
“All tenants deserve to be protected from unaffordable rent increases,” said Kenn Hale, Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at ACTO. “As it is, Bill 19 will put no limit on the rent a landlord can charge an incoming tenant to a vacant unit. Three hundred thousand households will still be exempt from rent regulation protections and tenants will be paying rent increases even if every other cost in Ontario declines. More must be done.”
1.3 million households in Ontario are tenants and one in five pay more than 50% of their income on rent. In Toronto, where 45% of Ontario’s tenants live, the average rent for a two bedroom apartment was just above $800 in 1997, and rose to $1,124 by 2011. As of March 2012, 885,506 Ontarians relied on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program for their incomes. 87% of these people are tenants, 5% live in their own homes. 16,000 people access the CSUMB every month.
The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the Income Security Advocacy Centre are specialty legal clinics funded by Legal Aid Ontario.