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08 2011

Vote housing

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

Over the next two weeks, Daily Bread will be releasing a series of election blog posts where we highlight some of the problem areas in the current social assistance system as well as challenge politicians to consider some of the potential solutions that we will also outline.  Visits to food banks in the GTA remain well above pre-recession levels and we want to see poverty and hunger front and centre as an election issue. Poverty adversely affects far too many people in Ontario and there are solutions to help alleviate it. Below is the second post in this series. Last year, food bank clients spent an average of 72 per cent of their income on housing costs. Spending 50 per cent or more puts a family at serious risk of homelessness. In order to help address the 72 per cent of income that food bank clients pay in rent and utilities, we are asking all political parties to endorse an Ontario Housing Benefit and implement if elected. We see the Housing Benefit as part of a broader based solution to addressing housing related poverty, in addition to building, maintaining and rehabilitating existing affordable housing. A Housing Benefit would also be another crucial step in restructuring our income security system in Ontario and more proof of a government committed to helping all Ontarians. You cannot adequately function in society without a roof over your head. Year after year, in interviews with food bank clients during our annual survey, we’ve found that the majority of income is going towards rents and utilities (housing costs). To make matters worse, the type of housing that individuals can afford at this income level are often poorly kept and unsafe. For singles on social assistance, the housing options are limited to rooming houses or other environments where safety and health can be compromised. Waiting  lists for affordable housing are often many years long. As a result, many people who need the help don’t even bother applying to yet another broken system that hinders rather than helps.

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