Renters in Niagara-on-the-Lake are paying a steep price to live in the historic former capital of Upper Canada.
The average cost of rent and utilities is almost $175 a month more than the provincial average, according to new data from the Canadian Rental Housing Index.
“The data is a call to action that we need to do more to address rental costs,” Marlene Coffey, chief executive of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, said in a press release.
The data says the average cost of rent in NOTL is $1,584, up from $1,282 in 2016.
For comparison, the average cost of rent for the wider province is $1,406, up from $1,109.
Coffee says the rent is up because operating costs are on the rise for landlords.
“Utilities, insurance, maintenance, taxes, security, everything related to operations has increasing costs,” she said.
It’s not just a city problem though, she said. The problem is spreading into the suburbs surrounding major urban centres.
The Rental Housing Index uses the same definition as The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which defines affordable rent as “less than 30 per cent of a household’s before-tax income.”
In NOTL, almost half of its 1,180 renters, 48 per cent, are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.
This puts them at a higher risk of homelessness, according to the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, which published the press release.
About 20 per cent of renters in NOTL are at a “crisis level,” spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent, the press release states.
The data, collected from the 2021 Canadian census, also shows renters are increasingly living in deteriorating, overcrowded conditions.
Coffee says one of the reasons for this is that much of the affordable housing previously built to house people is getting old.
Province-wide, Indigenous renters especially experienced declining conditions. They were to be living in units needing major repairs almost twice as often as their white peers at 13 and 7 per cent respectively.
Margaret Pfoh, chief executive of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association said in the press release that the conditions “perpetuate a cycle of inequality.”
The data also shows that the affordability crisis most affects racialized groups, single-mother families and senior citizens.
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, between 63 and 67 per cent of racialized renters were paying more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent.
White renters were also overpaying but at a rate of 46 per cent.
45 per cent of NOTL’s elderly renters, 65 years old and up, were also paying an unaffordable rate.