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What to Make of Housing Poverty in Halifax

This Report presents an alternative critique to the conventional wisdoms around homelessness and housing poverty. It argues that CMHC’s CORE need measure under-estimates the extent of housing poverty and makes an evidence-based case for a more inclusive “quality of life” definition. It goes on to argue that “by the numbers”, we have enough “affordable” non-profit-, public- and private-sector rental housing to more than meet our needs. But that while they have every right to do so, many middle and upper-middle income renters are “poaching” in otherwise “affordable” rental housing that is well BELOW their considerable means.

The lessons are: 1. Housing poverty is an income problem. 2. While housing poverty is about unbearable Shelter-to-Income Ratios (STIRs). it’s also about stigma, isolation, physical- and mental-heath and addictions problems, food deserts, inaccessible and inadequate services, exhausting travel times, and more. 3. We must stop eroding our stock of affordable rental housing and address the decades-old shortfalls of public investment community services, facilities and amenities. 4. We must stabilize, upgrade, protect and sustain our existing stocks of “affordable” rental housing. 5. And, we should encourage the private sector to build more interesting and attractive housing aimed at households in the $50,000/yr+ income brackets and thereby free-up the stock which they are “poaching” at present.

This report was researched and written in 2016-17 by Grant Wanzel for AHANS as one of its many contributions to the work of the Affordable Housing Working Group of the Halifax Housing and Homelessness Partnership.

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