Do the poor pay more for housing?

Image credit: The Blackbird (Jay Black) - Flickr from wikimedia

A paper by Princeton’s Matthew Desmond—who wrote the award-winning 2016 book Evictedand MIT’s Nathan Wilmers, track the rent burdens and levels of exploitation faced by those living in concentrated poverty. Published in the American Journal of Sociology, the paper attempts to document the actual housing costs paid by Americans in low-income urban neighborhoods and uncover the staggeringly high profit margins made by the landlords who own properties in these areas.  It is worth replicating in Canada. 

There is evidence that the poor do pay more and are less protected.  Global News crunched 2014 StatsCan data to find that the poorest fifth of Canadians see 55 per cent of their paycheque eaten up by housing costs.  Recently the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use published a paper exposing landlords who exploit drug user tenants because the regulations protecting them from eviction are less stringent.  We need to continue to build our understanding of the cost of housing for Canadians and to fight for affordable housing.

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