- JULY 18, 2019 - 4:00 AM
A new report called Unaccommodating, finds someone earning minimum wage would only be able to afford rent for a one-bedroom apartment in nine per cent of 795 neighbourhoods in Canadian cities in the study, including Belleville.
The analysis from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is raising questions about a promised federal rent supplement for low-income renters.
According to the report, published Thursday increasing housing costs impact one-third of all Canadians and the author stated while the supplement may help in the short term while the country builds new rental units, it is unlikely to close the affordability gap.
The report calculates rental wages by breaking down the hourly wage that full-time minimum wage workers, including Belleville would need to earn in order to afford rent for an average one-or two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 per cent of their earnings. It also calculates how many hours minimum wage earners would need to work to afford an average apartment.
Minimum wage earners in most major cities, including Belleville would need to work much longer hours in order to rent an average two-bedroom unit.
According to the report, someone living in the Friendly City would need to earn $20/hr to afford a two bedroom apartment or work 56 hours per week at the current $14/hr minimum wage to afford those same accommodations.
Speaking to InQuinte Thursday, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis said the cost of real estate in Belleville has gone up dramatically in recent years and the federal government is looking at ways to combat it.
"We put close to $7 million in affordable housing that's being built right now, in the last four years, but it's still not enough," he explained. "Our government is trying to tackle homelessness and we've got a plan. Hopefully, that plan will help some people in need in the riding."
The plan is the federal housing strategy that puts around $50 billion dollars into housing over the next 10 years, which will benefit Belleville down the road.
"Now, it's a matter of getting those units built. We've had that money brought to Belleville and units are being built on Sidney Street right now and in the riding. Again, with the homelessness and poverty situation, it's going to take a while to get this done."
The report uses rental data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and recommends increasing the amount of affordable housing units as the best way to address rental affordability something Belleville and Prince Edward County have begun brainstorming solutions on solving. According to 2017 CMHC data, the average monthly apartment rental costs in Hastings County are as follows: Bachelor $671; 1 bedroom $844; 2 bedroom $953; 3+ bedroom $1,119.
In March, the City of Belleville, held its first two-day housing summit with invested stakeholders at the table.
Cutting development charges and fast tracking certain projects were the first recommendations the city put forward to staff to try and kick start affordable housing builds in the city.
Mayor Mitch Panciuk said after the event that council had cleared a “big hurdle” by giving staff several recommendations that will move the city forward in addressing its housing crisis.
“Some of these will be short term, some of these will be medium term,” Panciuk said. “But the message we sent is very clear and the action we take is going to result in some progress.
In Prince Edward County, the municipality has also determined there is a dire need for affordable housing. The County has taken steps to work with groups like LoveSong Seniors Housing to transform the former Pinecrest Public School into affordable units along with formulate clear regulations for short-term accommodation rentals.
Of the cities ranked in Canada, Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria are the most out of reach for those earning minimum wage.
Minimum wage workers in Vancouver would need to make the highest rental wage, $35.43 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In Toronto, $33.70 an hour.
The report’s findings can be explored province by province by clicking here.