Many renters spend 50% of their income on housing

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A large and growing number of renters in some of the country’s battleground ridings spending half or more of their income on housing.

An analysis of the numbers in Statistics Canada’s 2016 long-form census that examined income, affordability and overcrowding across Canada’s 338 federal electoral districts shows that five of the country’s worst ridings for rental housing affordability also happen to be among the ridings with the tightest races between the parties.

Of the 20 ridings with the toughest affordability challenges, 11 are in Ontario and six are in British Columbia, with Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba rounding out the list with one riding each, according to the 2019 Canadian Rental Housing Index, released Tuesday.

In those ridings, a quarter or more of renters reported spending at least 50 per cent of their income on rent and utilities. (Utilities were included in rent figures because the data didn’t allow for costs to be separated out, according to the index.)

Of the ridings identified in the index, Willowdale in Toronto was the worst for rental affordability; 39 per cent of renters there reported spending half or more of their income toward rent.
A news outlet has identified five swing ridings on Statistics Canada’s top-20 list for costly housing: Richmond Hill, King-Vaughan, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill and Don Valley North in Ontario; and Burnaby North-Seymour in BC.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised last week to provide more help to first first-time homebuyers living in red-hot housing markets, including Toronto and Vancouver.
The Liberal plan would expand the number of first-time buyers eligible under the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s shared-equity program by increasing the value of a qualifying home from approximately $500,000 to nearly $800,000.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is expected to put forward his proposal on home ownership anytime now.

The index released Tuesday also paints a picture of those hardest hit by affordability challenges: single mothers, Indigenous renters, new immigrants, seniors and Canadians under 30.

That last group is comprised largely of millennials, who are expected to make up as much as 37 per cent of the electorate in this election, according to Abacus Data.

Nearly a quarter of renters under 30 are at what the index defines as a “crisis level of spending,” with half or more of their income going to rent — while at least half of seniors who rent spent 30 per cent or more of their income on housing.

New immigrants in particular are finding it even harder to live well despite having jobs because they are constantly trying to save enough for an ever growing down payment to buy a home. That is hard to do when a large chunk of their income goes toward paying rent and babysitting costs for their children.

Meanwhile millennials are more likely to be fighting for better housing for asylum seekers and refugees, not realizing that they themselves could use some sort of free or almost-free accommodation that would allow them to save for a down payment. Perhaps if there was a program that would give millennials and others highly subsidized housing on condition to paying a monthly amount that would go only to a future down payment on a house, it could help people save money as well as actually own a home someday. -CINEWS

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