Affordability crisis driving out disability beneficiaries

Housing affordability has been a long-running issue in Canada’s most dynamic housing markets, and the unrelenting upward spiral of price growth has started affecting an unexpected demographic: recipients of disability benefits.
42-year-old Laura Fowler, a beneficiary due to her PTSD and back issues, is one of the approximately 90,000 applicants for Toronto’s subsidized housing. She has sat on the wait list for nearly 7 years now.
Fowler’s benefits grant her $2,000 a month from the province’s disability program, along with some child care support from her former spouse. However, she is starting to feel the pinch of the inexorable increase in Toronto housing costs.
“It’s a nightmare. The future is so uncertain. And my daughter and my son now are not able to really come and see me because … I really don’t have food to feed them,” Fowler told Global News.
The child abuse survivor, who admitted that she is close to giving up, voiced fears that the stress of the situation might worsen her condition.
“If I go psychotic, I could end up out on the streets. I was there one time. I was out on the streets in the transition of trying to find a new apartment. I was in and out of consciousness and I didn’t sleep or eat during that entire time,” she said.
Advocacy groups acknowledged the difficulties of the Toronto situation.
“We don’t have enough programs that are encouraging the building of affordable housing. In Toronto, we have very limited supply of social housing units and we have a very big demand for affordable housing,” Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association executive director Sharad Kerur said.
“I think in general the affordable housing situation in this country is problematic. Provinces are dealing with it in their own way,” Kerur added, alluding to the recent revisions in Ontario regulations that would compel developers to allot a percentage of their units for the purposes of low-income housing.

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