Whether they own, rent or manage property, these locals say the housing market is no longer affordable

The skyrocketing cost of housing has become a dominant issue in the run up to next year's provincial election — as the dream of owning a home becomes increasingly unaffordable. CBC Kitchener-Waterloo spoke with renters and buyers about their cost of living.

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo asked residents what role the government should play in housing

A real estate sign that reads 'SOLD OVER ASKING' just atop a sign that reads 'FOR SALE'.
With home prices in Ontario up an average of 23 per cent year-over-year, both buyers and renters say they're being squeezed out. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The skyrocketing cost of housing has become a dominant issue in the run up to next year's provincial election — as the dream of owning a home becomes increasingly unaffordable. 

In Ontario, the average price of homes jumped by 23 per cent year over year, while the Waterloo region saw an even higher increase at roughly 34 per cent. 

That translates into a more than $200,000 increase in the benchmark sale price of a home in the Waterloo region, which sat at $803,900 in October, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Those prices are pushing some people out of the market for good, according to what CBC Kitchener-Waterloo heard from multiple interviews conducted with people about their living situations — and what they need from the Ontario government to make housing more affordable for renters and homebuyers.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. 

Kitchener renter: Federal NDP candidate Beisan Zubi

Beisan Zubi spoke to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo about the cost of housing. She's a renter and a former federal NDP candidate. (Josette Lafleur/CBC)

What is keeping you from owning a home?

I'm completely priced out of buying in Kitchener. I love the quality of life living downtown especially, but I can't afford to purchase. I don't think there is any kind of path for a single-income person to be able to afford at least a home, let alone market rates of rentals.

What kind of action would you like to see from the Ontario government?

More investments in alternative forms of housing: co-operative housing, affordable housing, community housing but making it part of the community. More conversations about what's really stopping people from being able to stay here.

More condo builds aren't going to solve the problem. What we really need is a variety of builds. We need to look at all of our neighbourhoods and look at how families can live and single people can live.

Kitchener renter: Meghan Lennox

Meghan Lennox is a renter in the Kitchener area. (Josette Lafleur/CBC )

Is owning a home something you would like to see happen in the future?

No — it's better to rent than to buy.

What kind of action would you like to see from the Ontario government?

I'd like to see places for homeless people and better housing for Indigenous people.

Kitchener renter: Lavourine Bryan

Lavourine Bryan is a renter who lives in Kitchener, Ont. (Josette Lafleur/CBC)

Would you like to own a house?

I think about it sometimes, but I hear the pros and cons of it … so no. They say you pay more in mortgage than you do in paying rent.

What would you like to see from the Ontario government to address the housing situation?

Maybe [cap] rent a little bit; not increase it every year. For those of us who work day-to-day it's hard.

What would you like to see from the government for people who would like to own?

A little bit of leeway on property tax or on hydro. That would help a bit on the cost. They charge us for delivery fees for gas and that all adds up.

Property manager: Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald manages property, but says he feels the cost of living is getting out of line with local wages and salaries. (Josette Lafleur/CBC)

What are you hearing from renters in your building?

To be totally honest, I do get that [prices] are a little high. In general, I think it's a little high in the region. I understand why it became that way, but I think it's going to cause issues fairly soon. It's something that has to be addressed.

What would you like to see done by the Ontario government?

We don't want to put the brakes on investors, but at the same time we have to see where wages will commensurate and meld with costs of living. I don't believe the wages in this area are going to support this type of rent for very long and I think we've got to take a look at somehow doing something about it.

Waterloo homeowner: Atiqur Rahman

Atiqur Rahman owns a home in Waterloo, Ont. (Josette Lafleur/CBC)

How did you get into the market?

I lucked out. I bought a house right before the crazy boom. My house value more than doubled and that's the only way I was able to afford my current house. Otherwise, there's no chance.

What do you think the Ontario government can do for people who are looking to get into housing?

I know it's pretty crazy getting a house right now. I'm not sure what the government can do, other than providing that financial help. Bidding is just crazy lately.

Files from CBC's Josette Lafleur