Housing crisis

Housing crisis for tenants in Peterborough area worsened in 2021, report finds

The housing crisis for Peterborough area renters has worsened in 2021, with rents rising at rates never seen before, the lowest vacancy rate in Ontario at 1% and the average asking rent for apartments vacancies 22.4% higher than the average rent for occupied units.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the 17th Annual United Way Peterborough & District Housing is fundamental report, which the organization released on Tuesday (October 11) — World Homeless Day.

Other key findings of the report include a 10.5% increase in the average rent for a two-bedroom unit (to $1,316) in 2021, the need to have an annual income of $52,640 to offer a two-bedroom unit and no growth in the rental supply despite a 1.5% increase in demand.

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In the report, author Paul Armstrong highlights the impacts of long-standing income inequality on housing affordability, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and increased demand for housing in Peterborough. Part of the problem, says Armstrong, is that housing is treated as a commodity rather than a human right.

“The flood of investors in real estate has driven prices up in both the property and rental markets,” Armstrong wrote in the report’s executive summary. “Completely ignoring the safe haven of housing, these investors treat housing like any other asset, their only interest being profit. Here we see almost no government intervention to protect households from rising costs.

“There is both injustice and immorality when the welfare of so many people is left to the manipulation of the private market, Armstrong quotes in the report.

Scarcity of apartments in Peterborough, 2012-2021.  (Chart: 2022 Housing is a fundamental relationship)
Scarcity of apartments in Peterborough, 2012-2021. (Chart: 2022 Housing is a fundamental relationship)

In reaction to the release of the report, homelessness researcher Dr. Naomi Nichols of Trent University’s Social Change Research echoed Armstrong.

“We must stop ceding the provision of housing – a basic human right – to the private market where it is commodified and traded like a financial asset, inflating prices and giving landlords and investors the power to determine who gets housing in our community and who doesn’t. not,” Nichols said.

The report describes growing income inequality despite continued economic growth, which is at the root of the housing crisis, with the pandemic further exacerbating inequality and, in turn, deepening the housing crisis.

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Dawn Berry Merriam, Planning and Research Associate at Merriam and Associates, highlighted the social importance of housing in supporting community growth and well-being.

“We immediately think of the preservation of the physical environment and its infrastructure after years, decades and centuries of neglect,” said Berry Merriam. “What is not always recognized is that for our communities, and therefore our world, to be sustainable, we must also foster strong social infrastructures.”

“This includes appropriate and innovative housing so that all older people can continue to live and thrive in communities where they have social connections, reducing isolation and increasing housing supports.”

The growth of income inequality, 1982-2018.  (Chart: 2022 Housing is a fundamental relationship)
The growth of income inequality, 1982-2018. (Chart: 2022 Housing is a fundamental relationship)

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Housing is a key social determinant of health, according to United Way Community Impact Manager Betsy Farrar.

“Without safe and stable housing, achieving other social determinants of health becomes exponentially more difficult,” Farrar said. “The rising cost of housing is putting immense pressure on the most vulnerable members of our community, affecting their mental and physical health, their ability to keep their jobs, and limiting their purchasing power for other necessities like food. “

“Our community continues to be in crisis and recovery from the pandemic will not be possible without significant investments in income-geared rents, rent supplements and real
affordable housing,” she added.

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The release of the report comes two days before a special meeting of Peterborough City Council’s General Committee to receive a ‘verbal update on housing and homelessness’ according to a city press release, after which the council will respond to the update and will also hear delegations.

Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien has called the special council meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 13, to discuss options for addressing homelessness this winter.

The call for the special council meeting came after city staff announced that the city’s $200,000 funding for a hospitality program at the former Trinity United Church on Reid Street could not have take place due to a “lame duck” provision of the Municipalities Act that prevents city council or staff from incurring expenses in excess of $50,000 during a municipal election campaign.

PDF: Housing Matters Report 2022
2022 Report Housing Matters

The report is also available on the United Way Peterborough & District website.