For many people, the cost of living in Vancouver has meant either paying the rent or buying food. Even for some home owners, food is passed over in order to pay the monthly mortgage. The link between food insecurity and cost of housing is clearly evident.
Let’s look at the cost of living for a household on income assistance. In the most recent “Cost of Eating in British Columbia 2011” report the provincial average cost for a nutritious food basket for a family of four is $868.43 per month. This same family on income assistance earns approximately $1,851. Rent for this family might be in the range of $1000/month if they are lucky but much more if they are paying market rent. After paying for food and rent, there is no money left to buy any other costs including transportation, clothing and school supplies.
And for a single man on disability assistance, he would likely be paying close to 75% of his income on housing, leaving little to properly feed himself.
For a full analysis from the Cost of Eating report check out: http://www.dietitians.ca/Downloadable-Content/Public/CostofEatingBC2011_FINAL.aspx
Food insecurity is a result of inadequate anti-poverty policy in which many often complex issues inevitably lead to an individual lacking in financial/income security. Housing affordability is a significant indicator for financial health and without a national housing strategy and policies to provide more affordable housing, families and individuals continue to struggle to make ends meet.
As food activists, it is important that we also work to advocate for social policy and change that also help build food secure communities. For this reason the Grandview Woodland Food Connection is keen to endorse the housing demands of the BC Save Social Housing Coalition:
We demand immediate provincial government housing action to solve the housing crisis in BC:
• Build 10,000 units of good quality social housing per year.
• Prioritize social housing units for Indigenous Peoples, migrants, women, seniors, people with mental health and physical disabilities including HIV/AIDs, and vulnerable low-income people who are disproportionately at risk of homelessness and hidden homelessness.
• Save existing low rent housing by enforcing maintenance standards; maintain non-market projects whose operating agreements are expiring; freeze rents & don’t allow increased rents when tenants move; and close loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act to stop renovictions.
• Protect tenants. Recognize tenant unions and their power to negotiate with landlords; Make all supportive & student housing fully covered by the Residential Tenancy Act.
• Include everyone who needs housing. End eligibility discrimination and make all BC residents eligible for BC Housing. Extend housing rights to temporary migrant workers by granting them permanent legal status.
• Fund social housing through taxation as a social responsibility of the government, and support residents of communities to develop and manage their social housing themselves.Here’s the link to the social housing coalition website if you need more info.