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Families Feeling the Impact as Rental Housing Affordability Worsens Across Canada

By BC Non-Profit Housing Association

Statistics Canada data shows rental housing costs are outpacing incomes and pushing renters into a crisis level of spending.

TORONTO, ONTARIO (May 8, 2018) – Nearly half of Canadian renter households are spending more than the recommended 30 per cent of their income on housing while nearly one in five are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing, putting a growing number of families and individuals at a crisis level of spending and at risk of homelessness.

The information comes from the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive database of rental housing statistics released today by a national partnership of housing associations, credit unions, and municipal associations, developed using the latest census data from Statistics Canada.

The Index tracks everything from average rental costs, to how rental housing spending compares with income, to overcrowding for over 800 cities and regions through an easy to access web portal. The tool is designed for governments, local planners, housing organizations, and the general public to view an accurate picture of the rental housing market in communities across the country.

“Traditionally, spending 30 per cent or less of household income on rent has been viewed as the benchmark of what is considered affordable,” said Jill Atkey, Acting CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “However, the data shows that spending more than 30 per cent of income on housing has become the new normal for individuals and families in almost all areas of Canada.”

The data paints a worrying picture for rental housing affordability across the country. Over 1.7 million renter households spend over the recommended affordability benchmark of 30 per cent of gross income on rent and utilities. Of those, 795,000 renter households spend over half of their income on housing costs.

“If every renter household that spent more than half of their income on housing costs lived in one place, it would be Canada’s fourth largest city,” said Kira Gerwing, Manager of Community Investment at Vancity credit union. “This shows why a strong community housing sector is absolutely necessary to deliver rental housing that people can afford.”

Another worrying trend is housing affordability issues continuing to spill into suburban and rural areas, rather than just large urban centres across the country.

“Although large urban centres have long been associated with higher rental housing costs relative to income levels, in the past, renters have been able to find suitable housing by looking in nearby suburban communities,” said Marlene Coffey, Executive Director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. “The 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index shows the suburbanization of poverty where major affordability challenges are just as prevalent in the surrounding communities as they are in those urban centres.”

The Index also shows that average rental costs are outpacing corresponding increases in household incomes. For example, Ontario saw average rent costs go up 20 per cent over five years compared with average income only rising by 12 percent over the same period. Regions

around Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver have been particularly hard hit by this added affordability challenge, although many smaller communities are facing similar situations as well.

As affordability challenges continue to worsen, renter households are being forced into overcrowded and other unsuitable accommodations. In total, the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index shows more than 417,000 renter households in Canada are considered overcrowded. This remains a common issue for many renter households living in large urban centres and in Northern Canada.

One of the drivers of these affordability challenges is the increase in the number of Canadians in the rental market. Between 2011 and 2016, nearly 400,000 new renter households were added for a total of more than 4.4-million or 32 per cent of all households in Canada.

“With escalating prices keeping many Canadians from affording home ownership, as well as a lack of affordable rental housing supply, more people are entering the rental market or staying in the rental market longer,” said Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. “This marks the first time in a generation that the rate of Canadian renters has outpaced the number of Canadians buying a home, and speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing.”

While the Index paints a negative picture for rental housing affordability across the country, an unprecedented focus on rental housing affordability by many governments and housing organizations provides hope for the future. Lessons can be learned from Quebec, which has better rental housing affordability relative to any other province or territory in the country.

“While still significant, affordability pressures in Quebec are less severe relative to other parts of the country, due in large part to a continuation of provincial affordable housing programs since the 1990s,” said Stéphan Corriveau, Executive Director of Réseau Québécois des OSBL d’habitation. “The Canadian Rental Housing Index demonstrates the need for all levels of government, communities, and housing providers to work together to ensure the timely delivery of a variety of housing options to address the diverse needs of Canadians.”

To learn more about the Index, please visit www.rentalhousingindex.ca.

Download the media backgrounder/FAQ, and 2018 RHI infographic for additional information.

ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP

The Canadian Rental Housing Index was developed by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and Vancity Credit Union, in partnership with Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, Real Estate Foundation of BC, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, Generation Squeeze, Co-op Housing Federation of BC, Co-op Housing Federation of Canada, Alberta Network of Public Housing Agencies, LandlordBC, New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, and Réseau Québécois des OSBL d’habitation.

It’s about time! A quick and easy way to list and find space to rent

By: Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant, Calgary Arts Development

Just over five years ago I was asked to help find spaces for three functions: an auditorium for my kids’ school’s spring concert, a boardroom for my favourite non-profit’s AGM, and an office space for an arts organization. After hours of phone calls and web searches I thought that there must be a one-stop online listing of all the bookable space.

And there was—in New York City. It was called Spacefinder and it was developed by NYC’s Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

SpaceFinder is now in Alberta. With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Calgary Arts Development has partnered with ArtsBuild Ontario, Arts Habitat Edmonton with the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, and Fractured Atlas to bring SpaceFinder to Albertans. SpaceFinder is an free marketplace for hourly, daily, weekly and long-term rentals. This online tool to help Albertans get more use out of existing space. Less existing space will go under-used less often.

SpaceFinder Alberta is live online and looking for people who need space. This free online marketplace links organizations with space to rent with those who need space. It is free to list. It is free to search. Did I mention it was free?

SpaceFinder helps venues efficiently find suitable users for their under-used space through this online tool. And it helps users find suitable space by streamlining the search for appropriate and affordable space.

The momentum is growing. In addition to Alberta, SpaceFinder has launched in Toronto and is underway in other regions of Ontario as well as BC and Manitoba.

SpaceFinder Alberta meets a dire need in our communities. Many groups in the creative, non-profit and small business communities need space for meeting, creating, rehearsing, presenting, collaborating, gathering or celebrating. They spend a lot of time trying to find suitable and affordable spaces—and SpaceFinder Alberta provides that information on a one-stop-shopping site, free of charge.

SpaceFinder Alberta can help venues reach new prospects, respond to inquiries and confirm appropriate renters very efficiently. Organizations spend significant resources trying to find the right renters for their spaces. Organizations can list their spaces free of charge on SpaceFinder Alberta. Help is available at calgaryartsdevelopment.com. Or in the Edmonton area, contact Arts Habitat Edmonton at artshab.com.

What kinds of spaces can be listed on SpaceFinder Alberta? Any space that supports creative uses in our communities. For many Albertans, arts spaces are where the arts are presented to audiences. But spaces are needed for every link in the value chain including creation space, rehearsal space, production space, warehouse and storage space and office space through to presentation and performance space. SpaceFinder Alberta lists spaces to support all disciplines. It supports community arts, professional arts and education in the arts.

Realtors know their community and its facilities. Venues listed on SpaceFinder Alberta include educational, commercial, faith-based, industrial, and institutional spaces. They can be for-profit and not-for-profit. They can be downtown or in suburbs.

If you know of a venue that makes space available, ask them to list their space on SpaceFinder Alberta. If you know of a group that is searching for space, please tell them about SpaceFinder Alberta. SpaceFinder Alberta: List a space. Find a space. For free.

After the Flood – A Resource for Landlords and Tenants

The Centre for Public Legal Education just put together this resource for landlords and tenants who have been devastated by the floods in Alberta. You can go to the resource or click the picture below to read the info sheet, and you can click here to listen to an audio Q & A version. Thanks to Marc Affeld at CJSW 90.9 FM, Calgary’s Community Radio station, for developing the recording and making it available.

So many people in Alberta have been involved with the floods; please pass this information along to those who need it.

The resource answers common questions, like:

  • What if the rental property has been damaged by a flood?
  • Does the tenant have to keep paying the rent after a flood?
  • Can the tenant move out because of the flood?
  • Can the landlord use the security deposit to pay for damages?
  • Who pays for stuff that is damaged?
  • What if the tenant thinks the property isn’t safe or healthy to live in?
  • Tips to help
  • Where can tenants and landlords get more help?

After the Flood - Resource for Landlords and Tenants