Having trouble paying your mortgage or rent and the bills this month? You’re probably among the 25 per cent of Canadian households paying shelter costs that exceed what’s considered affordable based on their income.
The National Household Survey says 3.3 million Canadians spent 30 per cent or more of their income on shelter in 2011, which includes everything from heat and electricity to property taxes.
The group was almost equally split between owners and renters, with about 1.7 million households owning their home and 1.6 million renting, says the data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday.
The 30 per cent figure is considered the threshold for when housing becomes unaffordable, according to financial experts, as defined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Of course it depends where you live. The study says Vancouver had the largest proportion of people paying 30 per cent or more of their income on shelter costs, at 33.5 per cent, compared to the smallest proportion in Saguenay, Que. at 18.9 per cent.
Across Canada, households above this closely watched 30-per-cent level paid an average of $1,259 per month on shelter, which StatsCan says exceeded the threshold by average of $510 per month.
Home owners were the most strapped. StatCan says of the 59 per cent of homeowners with a mortgage, 83 per cent exceeded the affordability threshold.
The numbers also come alongside a Scotiabank report shows average Canadian home prices increased 2.5 per cent in the second quarter compared to a year ago.
“Affordability is also challenged in some of Canada’s largest urban centres, primarily for single-family homes,” says the report from economist Adrienne Warren.
Overall, the household survey also shows 69 per cent of households in Canada owned the place where they live, which is about 9.2 million out of 13.3 million households across the country. That’s only slightly below the 68.4 per cent rate in the 2006 Census, and following 15 years of gains in the homeownership rate.
More Canadians were lured into home ownership in recent years, inspired by low interest rates and the dream of owning property and in hopes of watching it appreciate.
About 82 per cent of couples, either married or common law, owned their homes in 2011, versus 48.5 per cent on non-family households, which includes students and other shared accommodation.
And, of the 9.2 million people who owned their home in 2011, 28 per cent made the move in the past five years.
Other stats from the survey include:
- About half a million (557,435 or 13.7 per cent) tenant households lived in subsidized housing.
- Just over one-third (36.9 per cent) of tenant households in subsidized housing paid 30 per cent or more of total income towards shelter costs.
- Lone-parent households and non-family households were more likely to pay 30 per cent or more of total income towards shelter costs — about twice the proportion of couple-family households.
- Almost one-third (31.5 per cent) of households that bought a home between 2006 and 2011 had a primary household maintainer aged under 35 years.
- About four in five households that bought a home between 2006 and 2011 had a mortgage.
- About one in five households that bought a home between 2006 and 2011 chose a condominium unit.