United Way Peterborough and District’s 2022 Housing is Fundamental report, released on Tuesday, raises alarm bells about record vacancy rates, rising incomes and inequality in the city and county of Peterborough.
This is United Way’s 17th Housing is Fundamental report, compiled annually by Paul Armstrong, a current volunteer and former Durham School Board teacher.
“Massive wealth accumulates at the top of the social order while financial well-being erodes in much of society that exists below the midpoint,” Armstrong said.
Low wages are not keeping up with increases in inflation and their overall quality of life suffers, he said.
“For a large segment of low-income and decreasing-income people, these crises are pervasive,” Armstrong said. “They inform if the food drive is at the grocery store or at the food bank.”
Some people spend 90 to 100 per cent of their income on housing, he said, and use help from various agencies to get through each month, he said, noting that 3.6 million Ontarians visited a food bank in 2021.
“Using the average market rent each year, I did a very simple calculation,” he said. “Rents in the Peterborough area have increased by 31.5% between 2015 and 2021. Did people get a 31% increase in their wages during this period?
Armstrong said he believes a major reason for rising housing costs is the “continued financialization of housing,” with large investors buying large numbers of properties. They realize it’s a good market because the value constantly inflates over time, he said.
“The rapacious and relentless extraction of profits leaves tenants with an increased housing burden and less disposable income,” Armstrong said.
The government must properly tax excessive profits that homeowners make from housing to make such investments less attractive, he said, but the government refuses to do so because “the current political economy” favors ownership over ownership. lease.
“In this regard, government inaction would appear to support and perpetuate inequality,” Armstrong said.
Housing is not being produced fast enough to meet demand, he said.
The 1% vacancy rate in Peterborough in 2021 was the lowest in Ontario, pushing rental rates even higher, he said.
“About 20% of consumers cannot find or afford housing in the private market,” he said.