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The cost of rental housing keeps rising. Here’s how much you need to earn for a two bedroom in Windsor | CBC News

As of last year, you needed to work nearly 80 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment rental in Windsor, a report released Tuesday found.

The rising cost of housing in the city is an issue tenants and advocates know all too well.

“My rent is geared to income, thank God. If not, I would not be able to afford nothing,” said Windsorite Wayne Craig, who said he lives in community housing as a senior. “[$1,100, $1,200, $1,300] for a one-bedroom apartment is crazy.”

“I would not in a million years be able to afford that.”

A man in a baseball cap speaks in front of a busy street.
Wayne Craig is a senior who told CBC News he lives in rent-gear-to-income housing. Otherwise, he said, he’d never be able to afford the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

According to the new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, minimum wage earners need to work more than 40 hours a week, or earn substantially more than the minimum wage, to afford even a one-bedroom apartment, in every province.

The report used a standard measure of affordability: spending less than 30 per cent of income on rent. 

The analysis looked at 776 neighbourhoods across the country, and how much people would have to earn in a standard 40-hour work week to spend 30 per cent or less of their wage on housing — something the report authors called the rental wage. In every case, the rental wage is higher than a province’s minimum wage. 

While the disparity between minimum wages and rental prices is particularly high in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver — in both places, even two minimum wage workers wouldn’t be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 per cent on housing —  the report found the costs are rising in all cities the report examined, including Windsor. 

“Unfortunately, things did not get better and the trend continues towards a lack of affordability,” said Ricardo Tranjan, co-author of the report. 

In Windsor, four of the city’s 12 neighbourhoods for which data was available were considered affordable in 2018. Now, that number is zero. 

A worker would need to earn almost $19.50 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment within 30 per cent of their income in Windsor. For a two-bedroom unit, the necessary wage rises to $23 an hour. Earning minimum wage, a worker would need to work 77 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Windsor. 

Just four years ago, it was 50 hours, and at that time the minimum wage $14 per hour. 

The minimum wage in Ontario is $15.50.

Windsorites in rent-geared-to-income housing told CBC News they felt “lucky” to be able to afford their rent. 

Others renting market rate units said they sometimes had to put off necessities to afford rent. 

“It’s difficult, it’s hard to provide for myself seeing rent so high,” said Donald Richard Lampron. “I legitimately at times have to put off things that are a necessity in order to pay my rent. 

“It’s a huge crisis here in Windsor, availability for rentals even at this point. It’s becoming the next pandemic in my opinion.”

Compared to the last report in 2018, minimum wages rose over the last four years — but not fast enough to keep up with the cost of rent. 

It means more workers are spending too much on rent, which in turn makes them at higher risk for homelessness, Tranjan and fellow report author David Macdonald told CBC News. 

But while high rent impacts workers, Tranjan said it can also have wider economic impacts. 

“So there’s a pressure on wages and there’s also a pressure on consumption because if rent is taking too much of the money there’s less money going around for other things,” he said. 

“We know that low and moderate income families tend to … spend a lot of [disposable income] locally: groceries, medication, shoes for the kids and … transit and and all of those things that are usually purchased at the neighbourhood, if not at the city level. So there’s less money going around in these areas because rent is eating all up. 

“We know that has a negative impact on tenants, but there’s also a negative impact on the other sectors of the economy.”

A man in a dress shirt speaks to a camera outside.
Jay Shanmugam is the chief development and regeneration officer at the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation. He said while recently released numbers about rental affordability are not surprising, they are concerning. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

Jay Shanmugam is the chief development and regeneration officer with the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation. He said while the numbers aren’t surprising, they are concerning.

The Community Housing Corporation is working on a new development at 3100 Meadowbrook Lane, a mix of affordable and market rate housing. But, he added, their “market rate” is below the true market rate in Windsor. Other housing developments are also in the works, he added. 

Shanmugam said the number of applications coming into the Community Housing Corporation has been steady for several years, though the wait list is around 6,500 families right now. He said in the last two years they’ve been able to add more than 200 rent-geared-to-income rentals. 

Tranjan said the solutions are ones that have been heard before: controlling rent and adding more non-market housing, because he said those units stay more affordable in the long run. 

Average rent has risen by 10 per cent in a year

The average price for a rental home in Canada is up by 10 per cent since last year, and even cities known for lower rents, such as Montreal, are feeling the pinch.

“I think the discussion right now is moving more to the political level because we’re a little bit tired of hearing the same solutions and not seeing them implemented,” Tranjan said.

“Right now we don’t see a lot of that, not at the federal level or the provincial level … We’re moving in the opposite direction. So it’s important, I think, to move to the political conversation because the policy solutions are known, it’s just they have not been implemented.”


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