Looking for affordable rent? Not in Windsor, residents say

For many in Windsor-Essex, renting on a budget is proving to be an almost impossible task.

The cost of rentals is skyrocketing and many Windsorites are struggling to keep up

'You have to give up your quality of life': rent prices out of reach for many Windsorites

8 months ago
Duration 1:24
Aubrey Murray said he has had to sacrifice to find affordable rent. He currently lives in a converted building with several shared spaces.

For many in Windsor-Essex, renting on a budget is proving to be an almost impossible task.

Aubrey Murray is currently unable to work and depends on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to help pay for rent, food and supplies. More than half of his $16,000 yearly income goes to just paying rent.

"If I am cut off from ODSP or if something changes, yeah, I could lose everything."

He is currently living in a building that used to be a nightclub called Little Memphis Cabaret. The space Murray calls home right now is just a small bedroom. All other facilities, like the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, are shared spaces.

If you are somebody that's on disability or.. if you have kids.. it's just not possible [to find affordable rent] anymore.- Kurtis Lavender, lives in the upper floor of a converted house in Windsor

But his options are limited — and he's seen a lot worse.

"Here, it's very clean and well-maintained, thankfully. But a lot of the other places I've looked at, they're just infested with cockroaches or they have bedbugs or somebody had COVID and they just vacated the premises and they [the landlord] want you to move in the next day."

The difficulty of finding an affordable and comfortable place to live is something others can relate to. Kurtis Lavender recently moved to a new place with his partner. They live on the upper floor of a converted residential house. They are paying $1,725 every month for a two-bedroom, 1,100 sq. ft. unit.

"As a couple who both employed and able to make some gainful living, we've been able to stretch our budget a little bit more than maybe other people," he said. "But the prices have jumped from looking at two-bedroom units priced at roughly $1,100 to paying almost $1,800 for units — some of which have never even been renovated in years."

Rental market 'extremely tight' for Windsorites

8 months ago
Duration 1:11
Kurtis Lavender and his partner live in the upper floor of a converted residential home. They are paying $1,725 every month for their two-bedroom unit.

He said by the end of every month, they are able to save little to no money after paying for rent, food and transportation. It's putting their dream of buying a home together further out of reach. 

"If you are somebody that's on disability or someone that like a single mother, I don't understand how they're expected to be able to survive," he said. "If you have kids and you're trying to take care of kids, like it's just not possible anymore."

Affordable housing, vacancies becoming more scarce in Windsor

According to the latest report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the cost of rent has been steadily rising over the past 10 years — while available rentals have become more and more scarce in Windsor.

The report shows that at the end of 2020, the cost of rent had risen by 8.4 per cent since 2019. That is much higher than the provincial rent increase guideline of 2.2 per cent in 2020. CMHC will be releasing an updated report for 2021 in a few weeks.

Joyce Zuk, the executive director of Family Services Windsor-Essex, said the government needs to implement a three-pronged strategy to help end the rental crisis.

"There needs to be a look at an immediate approach to getting housing built...continue the rent supplement programs that were slated to expire in March...and there should also be an immediate freeze on rent," she said.

She said supports in place right now are not enough. Recipients of ODSP and Ontario works don't receive enough money or shelter allowance to cover the high cost of rent.

That's when, she said, people are forced to live in shared spaces.

"Shared living is not a bad option, but unfortunately, the homes that are being used for this were not initially set up or built for that purpose. We are also seeing...spaces in homes that are not intended to be lived in — for instance, like walk-in closets.

"It's sad. It's substandard housing."




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