The people of Hamilton have a rich history of working hard, caring for one another and developing innovative solutions for collective challenges.
Yet in recent years, many in our City have struggled. The decline of the manufacturing sector over two decades have combined with external economic challenges to create a community where some residents thrive while many others live in abject poverty, experience social exclusion and are fearful for their safety.
It is a tale of two cities:
While Hamilton has seen a massive influx of capital investment and over one billion dollars a year in new development permits, and while cranes tower over the downtown with new construction starts, income inequality and housing insecurity have reached new heights in our community.
While Hamilton’s unemployment rate is lower than the country’s, those statistics belie an unfortunate reality: Many workers in our City struggle with multiple part-time jobs at low wages with few benefits.
Housing, the very foundation for future prosperity remains precarious for many people. Hamiltonians are facing eviction and homelessness in staggering numbers. Landlords and property management companies, emboldened by the hyper-active housing market, are displacing and ‘renovicting’ tenants in records numbers. Hamilton saw Canada’s highest rent increases in 2019 for two-bedroom apartments and forty-five percent of tenant households live within one financial emergency of losing their homes.
And in 2020, as the global pandemic threw the world into dual health and economic crises and compounded the anxieties so many were already facing.
Yet the City of Hamilton has the opportunity to change the trajectory and build a future in which everyone can participate.
Over the past ten years, Hamilton City Council has developed innovative solutions that have made a difference in the lives of many vulnerable residents.
Hamilton became the first municipality in Canada to license and restrict the growth of predatory payday lenders, protecting borrowers while clamping down on an exploitative industry. In 2017, significant local funds were allocated to the repair of Hamilton’s social housing stock. When provincial or federal governments have left Hamiltonians behind through cuts to critical programs, often, City Council has looked to ways to bolster.
Hamilton has worked to make public transit more accessible to working people through the Low Income Transit Pass.
It’s time to build on those innovations and create a vision for a future where everybody in Hamilton can participate and prosper.
Mindful of the challenges facing the city, especially those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic a coalition of not for profits joined together to produce a policy document titled “A JUST RECOVERY FOR HAMILTON: Municipal Policy, Investment and Opportunities for a more equitable COVID-19 recovery in 2021.” The document outlines specific issues facing Hamilton as it looks towards a new post COIVD city, and suggestions for City Council, Staff and Community members to rally behind to build a better city for all moving forward.