There has been a 4.2 percent increase in rent in Hamilton, where a 1 bedroom is now $1250 a month on average, according to the July 2019 rent report from Padmapper. This increase propelled the Hammer into a list of the top 10 priciest cities in Canada. Kitchener tied as Canada's 9th priciest place to live after also seeing a rent increase of 4.1 percent, just a dash under Hamilton.
The Spec reported that minimum wage workers would have to work 54 hours a week to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Hamilton. A two-bedroom would clock you in at approximately 64 hours a week with one salary alone. This is surprising, considering the fact that minimum wage was raised to $14/hour just last year.
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“When we talk about housing affordability the focus is usually on home ownership,” says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Senior Economist David Macdonald. “But a third of households, or 4.7 million families, rent. Many of these renters—particularly those working at or near minimum wage, on fixed incomes or single-income households—are at risk of being priced out of modest apartments no matter where they look.”
A study on rental housing and wages in Canada has stated that out of Canada's 795 neighbourhoods, only 70 are affordable to a full-time worker on minimum wage. Out of Hamilton's 22 neighbourhoods, there are none in which a full-time minimum wage worker could afford a one-bedroom.
Same goes for Toronto and other major cities across Canada. The same study states that one in four Canadians makes within $3 of their province's minimum wage.
"Every time a unit becomes vacant, they increase the rents three, four times the amount it was," said Mike Wood, Hamilton ACORN chair. ACORN is an independent national organization that represents the interests of low- to moderate-income families.
One of the most significant drivers of rental wage increases since the 1990s has been the drop in construction of apartment building in favour of more expensive and smaller condo units.