Amid rising rental rates and a stagnant minimum wage, the majority of Ontario renters say they’ve had to choose between buying food and paying rent.
The finding was revealed in a province-wide poll of renters conducted by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and EKOS Research last month.
Sixty percent of respondents said they’d had to cut back on food to afford rent, and 74% said they’d had to cut back on other spending.
“No one, anywhere, should have to choose between food and shelter,” the ACTO wrote. “And yet in Ontario, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.”
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The province’s rising rents are pushing more lower-income renters into “very precarious” financial situations, the ACTO said. If they lost their source of income, 65% of low-income renters said they would not be able to pay their rent over the next three months.
According to the ACTO, anyone who allocates 50% or more of their income towards rent is at “a very high risk of becoming homeless.”
“Ontario renters are balancing on a knife’s edge to stay housed,” they said.
Ahead of the Ontario provincial election, the ACTO called on leaders to take immediate action to make housing more affordable, specifically by scrapping the 2018 exemption for rent control on new builds and eliminating vacancy decontrol.
The latter is a favourable move amongst Ontario renters—over 80% agreed that there should be a limit on how much landlords can increase a unit’s rent when it becomes vacant.
“Focusing on supply-side solutions won’t do enough, quickly enough, to stop the free-fall into poverty and increased risk of homelessness people are facing,” the ACTO said.