Couple on OW, ODSP can't afford average rent in Hamilton

Numbers from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association show rent costs more than social assistance gives out in Hamilton, but it's still cheaper than Toronto.

Just how affordable is Hamilton's rental housing?

Rent in Hamilton costs more than the social safety net is willing to cover for housing, but is still nearly $300 cheaper compared to Toronto.

Numbers from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) show the cost of rent in Hamilton is an average of $792 for a one-bedroom apartment. In context, that price is more than the $753 per month a couple would receive for housing from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or the $602 housing allowance a couple would receive for welfare (Ontario Works, OW).

And those numbers, cautioned ONPHA, are artificially low because they're an average of rent costs across the entire census area, which includes the cheaper apartments away from city cores which typically offer more services to those on OW or ODSP.

The ONPHA estimates are below the rent costs of the troubled 150 Sanford Ave. N., a building riddled with bed bugs, holes and a broken door. Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green said he didn't think "anybody should have to live in those conditions." Rent for the building is listed at $725 a month for a bachelor, $925 for a two-bedroom and $1195 for a three-bedroom unit.

For comparison, the figures for Toronto and Ottawa rents are even higher, with a one-bedroom costing nearly $300 more than Hamilton at an estimated $1,067 on average in Toronto (which has a census area that averages rent in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Ajax, Pickering, Milton, and Newmarket).

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