What is Affordable Housing?

When you hear the phrase “affordable housing”, what comes to mind?

  • Subsidized housing that allows people to transition off the streets?
  • Rent that can be paid on a minimum wage salary?
  • Multi-bedroom residences where families can comfortably raise their kids?
  • Entry-level homes that don’t take 20-plus years to save up for?
  • The answer is all of the above.

Affordable housing is any type of housing – rented, owned, or cooperatively owned – that costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. It can be provided by the private, public or non-profit sectors (source). It can be temporary or permanent. And it can include anything from single-family dwellings to apartments to laneway homes.

Why Affordable Housing Matters

When every type of housing is affordable and in ample supply – when every resident in a municipality or region can comfortably access a roof over their head – everyone benefits.

When a person is no longer required to live on the streets or out of shelter – when they have a place of their own to come home to at the end of every day – they reclaim a sense of personal dignity, which permeates into other areas of their life. Specifically, it becomes easier for them to get and keep employment, escape physical or emotional violence, recover from mental illness, integrate into the community, or keep custody of children. (source)

When parents aren’t spending upwards of 50% of their household income on rent, they don’t have to sacrifice things like healthy diets, dental care or medication – or acquire a second job that takes them away from home and adds to their own stress as well as their children’s. When those families are able to own a home, they don’t have to worry as much about uprooting their children at the whim of a landlord – and can provide those children with more stability and fewer educational disruptions which, inevitably, positively impacts future generations.

And, according to research, all these positive changes create more economically prosperous communities. When residents aren’t spending all their income on the essentials – shelter, food and utilities – they have:

  • more discretionary money left over to spend at local businesses;
  • more money to save;
  • the freedom to start up local businesses themselves; and they are physically and healthier all around.

Finding affordable housing in Guelph is at a breaking point. Building a livable, affordable city while eliminating sprawl and not paving over farmland, wetland, and the places we love are critical components to the Green Party of Ontario’s housing strategy. To learn more, visit gpo.ca/housing/.