Students advocate for rent-geared-to-income housing for older adults
April 23, 2021
Students in Building Healthy Communities (SOC 3369G) have partnered with the Age Friendly London Network in developing an advocacy strategy for rent-geared-to-income housing for older adults in London, Ontario.
This initiative comes at a time when Canada’s growing population of older adults is in even greater need of affordable, rent-geared-to-income housing.
The students in the Building Healthy Communities course call for the province of Ontario and City of London to put more resources toward rent-geared-to-income housing for older adults, highlighting the city’s “desperate need” and urging all levels of government to provide funding for this important issue. They have launched a petition as part of their advocacy strategy to acquire a community-wide response.
“London is lacking rent-geared-to-income housing for older adults. But sadly, this housing is underrepresented in London in proportion to the need,” says Rachael Velema, 4th Year Sociology and History major.
The students involved with the program and the project argue that despite local decision-makers, including Ed Holder, Mayor of London, advocating for affordable housing developments for the city, rent-geared-to-income housing suitable for older adults must be prioritized over other affordable housing options such as reduced market rent (70-95% of market value).
Velema believes the strategy developed will allow local organizations, such as the Age Friendly London Network to continue their advocacy efforts. The strategy provides older adults with up-to-date information about housing needs and options. She also says important connections were made with local leaders that will have a significant impact on the community.
“We need to work collaboratively with municipalities, service managers and the community housing sector to uncover opportunities to create and sustain rent-geared-to-income housing for older adults. Safe, affordable, accessible housing is a need for every individual in society, including the most vulnerable in order to create a healthy community,” says Kristie Przewieda, 4th year Sociology and History major.
“We have discovered it is going to take lots of work, long term determination, compassion, and collaboration to help the aging population in London and in Canada live in safe, affordable, accessible, and suitable housing. As long as there is the will to do so from the community members, we can achieve our goals,” says Velema.
Przewieda adds that, with continued learning and support, the advocacy strategy and work plan have the potential to create affordable, accessible, and suitable housing for the ageing adults in London.
Building Healthy Communities (SOC 3369G) is an experiential learning course facilitated through CityStudio, an initiative by Pillar Nonprofit Network which involves collaborations between the City of London and post-secondary students to tackle real-world issues facing our community. The project will be one of five submitted by King’s students that will be showcased as part of the virtual CityStudio HUBBUB on April 29, 2021.
Velema had heard about the course from previous students. “It seemed very hands on and collaborative and I really wanted to be involved in a course as such. I have also been very interested in policy, advocacy and making a difference in the community, so once I heard about the course I was very interested to enroll,” she says.
Przewieda, meanwhile, heard about Building Healthy Communities from Dr. Jinette Comeau, Assistant Professor of Sociology and professor of the course. “I was particularly interested in the ability to connect with community partners on an advocacy strategy for affordable housing in London, Ontario,” she says.
“I am very impressed by the high-quality work produced by students in this course. The course offers an excellent opportunity for students to apply their research and analytical skills, network with community-based partners, and learn more about the policy context related to housing and healthy ageing,” says Dr. Comeau.