Food for Thought Blog
Hunger and Housing: Ontario Temporarily Pauses Residential Evictions
One of the main reasons people use food banks in Ontario is due to the lack of affordable housing. Paying rent is often prioritized above other expenses; leaving people to make impossible choices between housing and food.
Accessing emergency food assistance may look different for everyone – for some it may mean bridging the gap between paycheques, a safety net to support them during a sudden job loss, illness, or a pandemic, for others it is literally a life saver – but the main reason is often the same, lack of affordable housing.
To provide temporary relief to tenants, the provincial government recently announced they are pausing the enforcement of residential evictions, aligning with the stay-at-home order and state of emergency. This means that while the Landlord and Tenant Board will continue to hold virtual hearings for eviction applications and issue orders, they cannot be enforced until after the stay-at-home order and state of emergency are lifted. Some tenants throughout the province may have experience rent increases as recently as December 2020, a rent freeze has been put in place for the remainder of 2021 and may be reconsidered next year.
Waterloo Region is home to some of the most expensive housing costs in the country, which means there is often not much left for other essentials such as heat, hydro, transportation and food. Locally 71% of people accessing emergency food assistance live in rentals.
If a tenant is in arrears, the landlord is required to have a conversation to discuss the situation and a repayment plan. Keep in mind, notices are often issued to tenants via email.
How You Can Help?
If you know someone who may be behind on their rent payments you can:
- Encourage them to discuss concerns with their landlord;
- Get them to check their email for a notice of a hearing;
- Refer them to Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, for support with tenancy and housing;
- Refer them to Lutherwood to inquire about their “rent fund”, they may be able to assist with last months rent and arrears;
- Temporarily lend spare technology – if you are able – for their hearings.