It is understood that one key to lifting someone out of the stranglehold of poverty is giving them access to an affordable living situation.

Money spent on restrictive rent prices is better left for expenditure on groceries, clothing, and other necessities of daily life.

Reality doesn’t often meet the means, however.

The provincial waiting list for affordable housing is at an all-time high, with some 171,360 households now waiting in the queue.

It wouldn’t be all bad if the overwhelmed list benefitted from a quick turnover rate — meaning people aren’t stuck in transition for long.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The longer the list grows, the more the length of time increases for those awaiting relief from poverty.

Perhaps now would be the time for our provincial and federal leaders to drop the platitudes, and make a more concerted effort on action when it comes to housing.

Ontario’s Liberals appear set for change, given last week’s proposal of an increase to the minimum wage, hiking it to $15 per hour. A higher wage, perhaps, means a greater annual income, thus opening someone to other housing prospects they couldn’t afford in the past.

Yet, right now, the average provincewide wait time for rent-geared-to-income housing has stretched to nearly four years.

It is worse in highly populated urban areas, like Ottawa and Toronto, where families should expect to remain in limbo for upwards of a decade. That’s a painfully long time to be trapped in poverty’s rut.

The key contributing factor? New affordable housing isn’t being built at a rate that keeps up with the need. Increased demand is being driven by an expanding population, low vacancy rates, ever-increasing rents, and more and more pleas for help from a workforce battered and beaten by precarious employment.

Ontario’s affordable housing waiting list bloomed by more than 40 per cent in the past 10 years, despite the calls for action by anti-poverty groups and housing activists. Even scarier, seniors now account for almost a third of the list, up from 10 per cent just a decade ago.

To all of this, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry isn’t immune. Affordable housing was a talking point of candidates during the most recent election cycles.

This area suffers, too, because of its large geographic footprint. Much of the housing options are located in Cornwall, away from ones home base, or in rural areas without a suitable public transportation network.

There’s also the growing deterioration of existing affordable housing sites. Simply put, as buildings age, units fall into disrepair and eventually become unfit for habitation.

The sooner more options are made available, the sooner efforts can be made to ease overgrown waiting lists.

Real progress is needed to overcome the grim statistics.