What We Heard

The Blueprinters identified a number of themes around stigma, safety, sense of isolation and lack of connection to community, cost, long waiting lists, affect on family and social relationships and disrepair of units.

Many respondents referred to a lack of safety in their immediate community. Single parents said there are few recreational facilities available to keep children busy after school. Location is another identified issue, as housing is often on the outskirts of towns and cities, making it difficult to get to services, look for work, or attend social assistance appointments. For those attempting recovery from addiction or dealing with mental health issues, the housing that is usually affordable is situated in places which exacerbate these conditions or cause relapse. Isolation and need result in increased petty crime, leaving vulnerable people as the targets of break-ins and theft.

ssed the lack of housing for couples with disabilities. The assumption seems to be that people with disabilities are and always will be single. They also talked about the difficulty finding attendant care for couples as funding seems to be disability or building specific. Many married couples were resigned to the idea of living separately for years. Many people talked about the fear of living with a partner, because of losing their rent subsidies and having their overall incomes go down, as the couple OW and ODSP rates are less than double the single rate.
Shelter allowances in social assistance are far below the available rents, for example the maximum shelter for a single receiving Ontario Works is just over $350/month. The only housing available anywhere near that price range is a rooming house. Rent is always paid first before groceries and other expenses – those other needs come second and are constantly being cut due to housing costs.

Most respondents talked about long waiting lists for housing ie. 7-8 years often, particularly those with attendant care needs. There is a lack of choice – you are told where to go even if it’s far from where you want to be or in a “rough neighbourhood.” Quality of housing was often discussed, including the stigma associated with social housing – “government housing looks like government housing.” In general people do not want to live in social housing and would not if they had a choice.

Questions For Discussion

1. Should the cost of housing be specifically considered when setting benefit rates?
2. What is the right balance between building affordable housing and providing income benefits to support people in market rental housing?
3. What is the role of government, non-profit sector and private sector in delivering housing?
4. Why are couples in need of supportive housing having such difficulties?