Date: June 25, 2019

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Poverty Taxes our Health

Health Impact: Housing

This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, August 25, 2016 10:51 AM

Fact Sheet: Housing (PDF)

Housing image

Housing, along with income and education, is a key contributor to better health for thousands of Lambton residents. Good housing means living in a neighbourhood where people feel a sense of safety and belonging.

Ingredients for suitable housing include:

  • a solid structure
  • free of lead, mould, and vermin
  • adequate heating, ventilation, water, sewage
  • ease of access to work and basic facilities

Housing, as a determinant of health, is strongly tied to income. Housing is unaffordable when it costs more than 30% of your income. When rent is unaffordable, it is difficult to purchase other necessities such as food. When households spend more than 50% of income on shelter, it significantly reduces the amount that can be spent on food, transit, clothing, and other essentials.

While good housing has health benefits, the opposite can be said for unstable or insecure housing which increases the risk for negative health outcomes. Studies that examined health and housing conditions found that unstable housing increases the risk of deaths related to preventable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic lung diseases.

As for the homeless, their health outcomes are considerably worse. Compared to the non-homeless, homeless people are more likely to:

  • suffer from mental health problems 
  • live in social isolation
  • have cancer (4 times greater)
  • have heart disease (5 times greater)
  • have hepatitis C (29 times more likely)1

Housing in Lambton County

Sub-standard housing is identified as housing that falls below at least one of adequacy, affordability or suitability. (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2014)

  • 17,560 sub-standard houses require repair
  • 3,420 renters paying more that 30% of their wages for housing (core need)
  • 1,190 renters paying over 50% of their wages for housing (deep core need) 
  • 722 people sought emergency shelter in 2012, a 37% increase from the year before

1. Wellesley Institute, Precarious Housing Canada, 2010 Summer

Resources and Opportunities

Housing Services: Apply for Housing Assistance
A household can apply to the Housing Services Department to complete an application to see if they qualify for rent-geared-to-income help. Apply online here or visit Housing Services Department at Lambton Shared Services Centre, 2nd Floor, 150 Christina St., N. Sarnia. Call 519-344-2057 or toll free 1-800-387-2882.

Homeownership Down Payment Assistance
The homeownership program helps low-to-moderate income renter households buy an affordable home by offering a down payment in the form of a forgivable loan. Owning a home helps to free rental units, and encourages developers to build affordable housing, and foster demand. Click to download an application.

Lambton Renovates
Lambton Renovates is a help program that provides money to make repairs during renovation rehab projects to improve the living conditions of households in need. Repairs may include insulation, roofs, windows, electrical systems, plumbing and energy efficiency as well as the building secondary suites, and changes to allow accessibility. Apply here.

The Inn of the Good Shepherd
The Inn of the Good Shepherd offers the following housing and shelter services:
• The Haven - emergency shelter for youth
• Good Shepherd's Lodge - emergency shelter for adults
• Transitional housing
• Rent / utility assistance
• Start-up program (Genesis)
For more information call 519-344-1746

County of Lambton Housing and Homelessness Plan (2014-2023)
Lambton County's "Housing First - Housing Right" plan is based on the belief that 'people move forward if they live in stable housing'. The goal of the new housing and homelessness plan is to meet the area's affordable housing, special needs alternatives and homelessness service needs.

Sarnia-Lambton Community Homelessness Initiative Network
The network includes reps from community service agencies, landlords, persons with lived experiences and concerned citizens. The group shares information on local projects and initiatives relevant to homelessness. The sharing of information allows area policy-makers to observe trends and discuss possible solutions to local concerns. Call Kathy Wodzinski, c/o Community Legal Assistance Sarnia at 519-332-8055.