Currently, many Ontarians with disabilities live in poverty. This lack of resources limits the choices people can make about where to live. Alternatively, people may prioritize housing needs, but have limited access to other resources, such as food. As a result, AODA housing standards should require improvements to housing allowances and subsidies for Ontarians with disabilities.
Improvements to Housing Allowances and Subsidies for Ontarians with Disabilities
A 2017 survey on disability in Canada states that during that year, only fifty-eight percent (58%) of people with disabilities of working age were employed. Nonetheless, many people with disabilities are able and willing to work. However, they face many barriers when they search for jobs, and they often cannot find employment. Currently, many Ontarians with disabilities who are unemployed must receive government assistance from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
The Third Review of the AODA reports that due to a “benefit freeze” from 1998 to 2008, ODSP payments have not risen with inflation. As a result, ODSP payments do not allow people to reach the current standard of living in Ontario. In short, most people who rely on ODSP are living below the poverty line.
Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)and Housing
Part of people’s ODSP payments should fund their rent, while the rest funds food, clothing, and other necessities. However, the current ODSP rent allotment does not provide enough money to pay rent in many areas. As a result, people may need to spend food money on rent. Therefore, they rely on food banks to meet some of the basic needs they should be able to afford.
Limited ODSP funding impacts not only individuals, but their families. For instance, families with one working spouse and the other reliant on ODSP often live below the poverty line. Moreover, the Third Review of the AODA describes an ODSP recipient who cannot afford to house her three children. Instead, she can only afford to live with two of them.
In other words, current financial support for people with disabilities does not meet Ontarians’ needs.
AODA housing standards could create mandates to help people access housing that best suits their family structures, as well as their disability-related needs. For instance, AODA housing standards could include guidelines to regulate:
- Rent subsidies or rent-geared-to-income
- Rental supplements or allowances
For example, AODA housing standards could mandate that any rental assistance people with disabilities receive must rise with inflation. In this way, the funding people receive will properly correspond to the changing standard of living. In addition, such funding could also reflect difference in people’s life circumstances, such as the region they live in, or family structure.
AODA housing standards could help many people with disabilities to access the funding needed for a supportive quality of life today.