HALIBURTON, ON – The health unit says safe, affordable housing is hard to come by in Haliburton and the situation needs to change.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) is asking the public to lobby all levels of government to build more affordable housing units.

The group asked anyone in the community who doesn’t like the idea of new affordable housing units or renovations in their neighbourhood to be more open-minded.

The health unit said homeownership is out of reach for most people in the region with the price of a non-waterfront property averaging almost $250,000. It added rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the county is over $1,400. Even for those who can afford the rent, units are hard to come by.

 The Ontario Medical Association said a stable living environment is crucial for mental and physical health. The group added those without it are less likely to find work and earn a steady income.

“These findings are worrisome because they highlight the lack of affordable housing in Haliburton County – both to buy and rent – and the toll it can take on people’s health,” Mary Lou Mills, a Public Health Nurse with the HKRDHU said.

Mills added that older adults are often on fixed incomes and have complex health needs, which leaves them at higher risks of living in poor quality housing.

“A stable living environment is so important for our health because, without it, we fall into a vicious cycle of problems,” Mills said. “If people do not have adequate housing, they are less likely to be able to find work and earn money. Without enough income, people cannot afford food and other necessities of life which are essential for personal wellbeing.”

Social assistance, disability programs, seniors’ fixed pensions, and low-paying jobs don’t provide people with enough money to meet the basic needs of housing and food, according to Mills.

The nurse added that on average both parents of a household with two children need to make just over $19 an hour to meet the basic needs of living in Haliburton County. The rate was based on calculations made by the health unit in 2018.