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Renters in Canada are three times more likely to be in need of adequate housing than owners

At least 1.6 million, or 10%, of Canadian households were housing disadvantaged.

One of the survey’s starkest findings showed that renter households were more than three times likely to be housing needy than owner households. PHOTO BY POSTMEDIA

Apartment dwellers, persons living alone, renters and visible minorities are more likely to be housing disadvantaged in Canada, according to data released by Statistics Canada in early October, which has identified cohorts whose core housing needs are being increasingly unmet.

The Canadian Housing Survey (CHS), sponsored by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), collects information on housing adequacy and affordability and found that at least 1.6 million, or 10 per cent, of Canadian households were housing disadvantaged. (The survey, which will be conducted biennially until 2028, used data collected in 2018.)

Households living in inadequate (requiring repairs), unaffordable and unsuitable (crowding, not enough bedrooms) dwellings are deemed in core housing need if they cannot afford an alternative home in their community that is adequate and suitable. Thus, the housing disadvantaged are those who are unable to find any housing commensurate with their circumstances.

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Almost one in four renter households (23 per cent) lived in a dwelling that did not suit their family size or budget. By comparison, only 6.5 per cent of owners were considered housing disadvantaged. Among renters, a greater proportion of those living in social and affordable housing was in core housing need (33 per cent) than other renters (21 per cent).

Differences in demographics, incomes, structural types of housing and other attributes explain why large differences exist between owners and renters. Consider that renter household incomes, on average, are less than those for owner households.

Differences in income dictate choices about the structural type and tenure of housing. For example, almost 70 per cent of renters in social and affordable housing occupied an apartment, compared to 46 per cent of other renters.

Similarly, certain demographic traits influence or partially determine the economic well-being of households. Race, marital status and household size are strong determinants of household income, which, in turn, influences the adequacy of a household’s dwelling. A breakdown by race revealed that racial minority households (14 per cent) were twice as likely to be housing disadvantaged than others.

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