Report: Waterloo Region housing market amongst the worst in Ontario

With the ongoing housing crisis in Canada, the 2023 Vital Signs Report for Waterloo Region has discovered just how difficult it is for those trying to find a home.

The report found that the crisis is affecting vulnerable individuals more so than others. Eric Avner, the President and CEO of Waterloo Region Community Foundation said “It’s hitting certain populations harder than others. The young non-homeowner older adults, newcomers, refugees, those who identify as indigenous. Along with people of colour, those with disabilities and people exiting the child welfare system.”

Avner claims that one thing from the report that caught his eye was ‘the mis-match between who is arriving and what is being built.” 

The report found that larger households are growing twice as fast in Waterloo Region compared to the country. While smaller houses are being built, it is not what is needed as thirty percent of households in the region now contain four or more people. 

“Only about five percent of our rental stock has more than three bedrooms. So now we’re seeing another crisis of overcrowding, which isn’t something I was prepared to see,” Avner stated.

In Waterloo Region, it was found that despite a large number of people coming to the region, many are also leaving. Between 2016 and 2021, 114,753 people came to the community, while 63,000 people left. 

“We have the second highest rate of people arriving nationally, we also have the second highest rate of people leaving the region,” Avner said some of this is due to students and non-permanent residents, however, there are older adults and families leaving as well.

With increasing rates, issues such as homelessness have continued to rise. The report also found that mental health problems are prevalent in those who spend upwards of thirty percent of their income on housing. These people are twice as likely to report low life satisfaction. 

“There’s this big correlation between housing affordability and overall well-being.”

There is no single solution to the housing crisis in the region, however, Avner stated there are many organizations in the community who are attempting to help with the crisis.

“The BUILD NOW: Waterloo Region initiative is trying to build 10,000 new and affordable units in the next five years. There’s great work that’s being done by the K-W Urban Wigwam Project that is building housing for indigenous people.”

You can read the full details of the report here

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