Ways to combat Ward 9 poverty

Distributing brochures in parts of Ward 9 this past week, I saw numerous examples of low-income families living in squalid, sub-standard housing.

Those adults and children — housed mostly in low-rise apartment buildings — helped put a human face on findings presented in anti-poverty reports recently provided to election candidates. The information, distributed by Opportunities Waterloo Region, comes from an alliance of six local groups intent on highlighting issues faced by those living in poverty.

Information included the following:

• About 3,500 households — at least 10,000 adults and children — are on a list waiting for affordable housing in Waterloo Region and a  growing number of them are seniors or newcomers to Canada.

• Average wait times for seniors searching for affordable, one-bedroom units ranges from six months to three years. Non-seniors wait four to six years.

• Food-bank and emergency-shelter use continues to increase in Waterloo Region where about 40 per cent of households pay more than 35 per cent of gross income for rent.

In past years I have written numerous columns criticizing the fact we tolerate such poverty — particularly child poverty — in our very wealthy Region.

Now I’m putting my money where my very loud mouth has often been.

As Ward 9 councillor, I would try to improve the lives of low-income families.

One of the best ways to achieve that is to encourage construction of more low-cost housing and make certain it is located in all parts of the city. Another involves providing increased subsidies to poor kids so more of them can participate in Kitchener’s recreational activities.

Let me know if you have other suggestions on ways to ease and combat poverty.

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