TRURO, N.S. – About 18 per cent of Colchester County residents are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter, meaning they are falling below affordability standards.
The Colchester Anti-Poverty Network recently released a review, compiled in partnership with public health, called ‘Housing: A Basic Human Right,’ which looks at the issue.
“The relationship between housing and health is complex, and it’s a two-way street,” said Julie McEachern, who presented the report at a meeting on Dec. 19. “Housing issues can lead to health issues, and health issues can lead to housing issues. If housing is making you less healthy it’s difficult to lead a life that will help you escape poor housing.
“If you’re spending more than 30 per cent of your income on housing it’s not affordable; it puts you at risk.”
She stressed the importance of looking at conditions that are creating housing issues.
Exposure to things such as mould, lead, carbon monoxide and cold temperatures in the home can lead to physical health problems, as well as social isolation. Outdoor conditions, such as a high crime rate, can lead to a lack of exercise, causing health problems.
“Advocacy and political, economic and ideological change are needed to make changes in housing,” said McEachern. “Change is often led by community groups. It’s important to remember that, while working toward major change, we still need to support those working on the front lines today.”
She added, when it comes to addressing the social determinants of health, Canada is not doing a great job.
Sue King Darby, chair of the Colchester Anti-Poverty Network, noted the data in the report is valuable when trying to make change, and she hopes they will be able to compile more detailed data.
Suggestions for improving housing included mixed communities, with a variety of housing types and prices, and providing supports.
Anyone interested in being involved in the Colchester Anti-Poverty Network can contact King-Darby at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Colchester County
Low income: 10 per cent
Median income after tax among earners: $27,036
Individuals with an after-tax income of less than $20,000: 34 per cent
Households in major need of repair: 13 per cent