HAMILTON, ON (Oct 23, 2023) Hamilton, our city known for its heart and spirit, is facing an escalating affordable housing crisis. While this will not come as a surprise to most residents, the extend of this issue was confirmed in the recently published Vital Signs report, produced by the Hamilton Community Foundation. The report lays bare a host of alarming trends, underlining the urgent need for action and solidarity in addressing Hamilton’s housing challenges.
Key Findings at a Glance:
- New housing construction is catering mainly to higher income brackets.
- A staggering loss of affordable rental housing, with 23 units lost for every one built over a decade.
- Over the past decade, Hamilton rents for all units have risen 55% — more than double the 22% cost-of-living increase.
- Rents have increased in all areas of the city and across all unit types.
- A widening gap between social assistance allowances and average rents.
- The number of people experiencing homelessness has continued to rise. The top five barriers to finding housing have been identified as: high rent, low income, no social assistance, poor housing conditions and discrimination.
New Housing, but Not for All
The findings of the report present a bleak picture of Hamilton’s housing landscape, one that demands immediate attention and collective action.
While the report does indicate an increase in new housing construction in Hamilton, most of these new units are tailored to the higher end of the housing spectrum, leaving lower-income households with limited affordable options. This imbalance is exacerbating the city’s pressing housing issue.
The city’s residents continue to grapple with escalating rents, with two-bedroom units seeing an alarming 12% increase between June 2022 and June 2023. These rising rents not only put financial pressure on Hamiltonians but also significantly contribute to the city’s growing homeless population. Perhaps one of the most alarming revelations in the report is the erosion of affordable rental units within the city. Shockingly, for every affordable unit built, 23 have been lost over the past decade. This trend underscores the dire need for urgent intervention.
One thing that could be seen as a silver lining in the report is a noted decrease in the number of households experiencing core housing needs in 2021. However, this was attributed primarily to pandemic-related income benefits. In fact, renters remain five times more likely to face core housing needs than homeowners, primarily due to lower incomes.
Social Assistance Gap
The gap between social assistance program allowances and average rents has grown significantly, making it nearly impossible for those dependent on these programs to secure adequate housing. This growing disparity raises serious concerns about housing affordability for the city’s most vulnerable residents. The number of people experiencing homelessness in Hamilton continues to surge as well. The top five barriers to finding housing, as identified in the report, include high rent, low income, a lack of social assistance, poor housing conditions, and discrimination.
Habitat for Humanity’s Ongoing Commitment
In the face of these alarming findings, Habitat for Humanity Hamilton remains steadfast in the pursuance of its mission to build strength, stability, and self-reliance in our city through shelter. We firmly believe in the power of safe, decent, and affordable housing as the foundation for strong, stable communities.
Habitat for Humanity Hamilton is committed to building affordable homes for families in need. The organization understands the critical importance of providing a stable and affordable place to call home for all residents. Habitat’s work is made possible by the support of volunteers, donors, and partners. An open invitation is extended to all Hamiltonians to consider supporting our mission, which helps change the lives of families afflicted by this troubling housing situation. Whether through volunteering time, making donations, or raising awareness, community involvement is integral to the organization’s success.
In the coming months, the Hamilton Community Foundation will be rolling out a comprehensive affordable housing strategy, known as SCAFFOLD (Supporting Affordable Housing Efforts). This 10-year, $50 million commitment will focus on addressing the critical need for affordable housing in our community. However, this will not be enough. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity Hamilton will still play a key role in the social safety net and still need the support of everyone in the community.
The findings from the Vital Signs report are not mere statistics; they are a call to action. They serve as a stark reminder that much work is needed to ensure that every Hamiltonian has access to safe and affordable housing. The challenges are significant, but Habitat for Humanity Hamilton remains dedicated to being part of the solution.
We believe that housing should be a fundamental human right for all residents of Hamilton. This is an invitation for all to join in this critical mission. Your support, whether through donations, volunteering, or advocacy, has the power to make a tangible difference in the lives of families who are struggling to find a place to call home.
Together, we can help reverse these alarming trends and build a brighter future for our community. The time to act is now, and your involvement can be the catalyst for change. Please click here to donate, or click here to volunteer today.
To read the full report, click here.