Lived Experience Groups Joining the Anti-Poverty Hearings

Jun 20 2019

 Lack of affordability in the KW housing market impacts many residents, especially those who are low income. Through the Voices From the Margins project led by the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC), a hearing was held in Kitchener on June 18th that allowed members of different lived experience groups to share their stories. The Participant Action Groups, Disabilities and Human Rights, Awareness of Low-Income Voices, and Alliance Against Poverty all had representatives at the hearing who spoke about their hardships of living on low income or no income: fear of not having a permanent home, inadequate income to cover basic needs, disruptions in the services provided, and the impact of housing instability and homelessness on one’s mental health and well-being.

    Many participants stated that the region was lacking safe and permanent living arrangements. This leaves many in housing situations in which there is overcrowding, a lack of privacy and safety. What also arose in conversation was the matter of intergenerational dependency, many youths are moving back in with their parents. When working on minimum wage or living on social assistance they have limited options of short-term living arrangements. Even those cannot be consistently paid for, the cost of covering housing leaves them making tough decisions around food, transportation, medication, and other life necessities. 

For those who have reached retirement and who have owned their own home for decades, the cost increase in the housing market and the inadequate financial support for seniors is making it difficult to keep adequate housing. Similarly, those who have become low income in their retirement years due to illness and injury find themselves dealing with increasing property taxes and expenses. 

When asked if their situation over the years was getting better or worse, many stated that their situation was continuously getting worse. Many made mention that housing is a foundational need that left without, limits one’s ability to progress in other areas. Many stated that they dealt with anxiety, depression, stress, and expressed feeling uncertain about their future.

 

The messages shared: increase in social assistance is the top priority; creating affordable housing; better access to resources that not only provide for bare survival but enrich lives; having community hubs and peer support groups that allow people to connect with one another. Also, collaboration among the lived-experience groups in the region should be taken seriously and funded by the regional and city governments as the perspectives they provide needs to be included in the development and implementation of the strategic plans. 

Rachel Bair, served as one of the note takers at the ISARC Hearing on June 18, 2019