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This article was published 13/12/2017 (187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Despite having some of the least expensive real estate across major Canadian cities, Winnipeg is experiencing an increase in the number of residents living in houses they can’t afford.
New data released on Tuesday by Peg, an organization which studies local issues related to public health and safety, noted the number of Winnipeggers in what they call the "core housing need" increased to 12.1 per cent last year from 10.3 per cent in 2010.
Peg defines "core housing need" as housing that isn’t adequate or affordable for its inhabitants. It’s measured by the percentage of households in the city whose housing either costs more than 30 per cent of the resident’s income, requires major repairs, or is not large enough to accommodate the family living in it. The results prompted some officials to suggest the city needs more affordable housing options.
Gord McIntyre at the Winnipeg Rental Network said not only are housing opportunities becoming scarce, but affordable housing isn’t particularly affordable for many people.
On average, a one-bedroom unit with utilities included was priced at $880 last year, however, prices have risen and McIntyre said one-bedroom units now average over $900.
On top of this, he noted that the city is slowly losing its social housing. A government-owned highrise at 185 Smith St. that sat vacant for almost three years, is now in the process of being sold because of maintenance issues. Many argued the building is salvageable and could be used as a low-income rental.
"I think we need to look at ways to hold on to a building like that," McIntyre said. "We’re definitely not going to get ahead of homelessness if we’re getting rid of affordable housing."
He suggested that the province look to non-profit organizations for help in solving this problem. For example, the federal government could increase grants to non-profit organizations, which would be an incentive for them to invest in building more housing stock.
Kirsten Bernas, a member of the Right to Housing Coalition, agreed that combined efforts between the federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with non-profit organizations, will help solve the housing issue.
"There’s long been a shortage of social and affordable housing," she said. "We need all three levels of government to step up and address this issue."
She mentioned that the federal government has doled out a significant amount of money that both the provincial and municipal governments can use to help address affordable housing.
Their communication is key, especially with non-profit organizations that can help direct these efforts, she added.
Bernas also mentioned that like McIntyre, the provincial government needs to invest in their existing stock. Which means not selling the highrise on Smith Street, but fixing it for use.
"We are very opposed to this idea," she added. "They should not get rid of it."