Affordable Housing Conditions Improve Across Canada

OTTAWA, May 21, 2004 – A moderate improvement in affordable housing

conditions in Canada between 1996 and 2001 was announced by Canada Mortgage

and Housing Corporation (CMHC) today.

The proportion of Canadian households experiencing core housing need

declined from 17.9 per cent in 1996 to 15.8 per cent in 2001, according to an

analysis of 2001 census data. The situation improved for both homeowners and

renters, with the greatest overall improvements in housing conditions in

Quebec, the Yukon Territory, New Brunswick, and Manitoba.

“The improvement in housing conditions reflects Canada’s healthy

economy,” said Douglas Stewart, Vice President, Policy and Planning. “Solid

employment and income growth, combined with low mortgage interest rates and

modest increases in shelter costs enabled more Canadians to meet their housing


However Mr. Stewart cautioned that, “Despite these recent improvements,

we must be mindful that 1.7 million households in Canada remain in core need.

Almost all of these households paid more than 30 per cent or more of their

income for shelters and more than one-third of these households paid 50 per

cent or more of their income for shelter in 2001, leaving them with limited

income for other necessities.”

The incidence of core housing need amongst certain groups such as

Aboriginal people living off-reserve (25 per cent) and recent immigrants

(33 per cent) remains considerably higher than for the general population.

Housing needs tend to be most acute in Canada’s largest cities and in the far


The core housing need data excludes Indian Reserves where the need for

housing to reduce overcrowding, replace substandard housing and meet the needs

of a growing population is well-documented.

Households are considered to be in core housing need if they live in

housing which is crowded or needs major repairs or costs 30 per cent or more

of before-tax household income, and if they are unable to find acceptable

housing locally for less than 30 per cent of income.

The information was released in the CMHC Research Highlight “2001 Census

Housing Series: Issue 2 – The Geography of Household Growth and Core Housing

Need” and “Issue 3 – The Adequacy, Suitability and Affordability of Canadian


Summary of Core Housing Need Statistics

— ————————————-

In Issue 2, CMHC found that the total number of households in Canada grew

by 7.8 per cent between 1996 and 2001. The proportion of those households in

core housing need dropped from 17.9 to 15.8 per cent. As a result, the total

number of households in core housing need fell 4.7 per cent.

The percentage of households in housing need decreased in all provinces

and territories except Newfoundland and Labrador, where it was unchanged. The

number of households in need fell in all provinces and territories except

Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, where it increased slightly.

In Issue 3, CMHC assessed households against the three standards

underlying its comprehensive indicator of acceptable housing: dwelling

adequacy, suitability and affordability. Confirming past studies, it found

that most Canadian households (70 per cent) lived in acceptable housing in

2001, that is, in housing that met all three standards. The remaining 30 per

cent of households living in housing that was not acceptable were divided

between those with sufficient incomes to access acceptable housing and those

whose incomes were not sufficient. The 15.8 per cent in the latter group are

deemed by CMHC to be in core housing need.

To download a copy of the recently released Research Highlight “2001

Census Housing Series: Issue 2 – The Geography of Household Growth and Core

Housing Need: 1996:2001” and a companion Highlight “2001 Census Series: Issue

3 – The Adequacy, Suitability, and Affordability of Canadian Housing” visit

the CMHC Web site at: or you can order the free publication from

CMHC by telephone at 1-800-668-2642.



The Government of Canada’s range of housing programs reflects its

commitment to improving housing conditions and affordability on a number of


Between 2001 and 2007, the federal government will invest $1 billion to

increase the supply of affordable housing. Affordable Housing Agreements have

been signed with all provinces and territories and $276 million in funding for

some 12,000 units has already been committed. These agreements provide

provinces with the flexibility to tailor programs to meet their particular

affordable housing needs while creating affordable housing for low-to moderate-

income households.

The federal government annually spends approximately $2 billion primarily

to assist some 636,000 existing low and moderate-income households through

CMHC assisted housing programs, including ongoing financial support for non-

profit and cooperative housing projects.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s existing renovation programs

have been extended by $384 million over three years and will build on the

success of those programs to date. CMHC’s renovation programs include the

Residential Rehabilitation Assistance program, Home Adaptations for Seniors

Independence, the Emergency Repair Program and the Shelter Enhancement

program. These renovation programs help bring housing up to minimum health and

safety standards and have helped some 650,000 Canadian households most in need

of housing.

CMHC also supports community-based partnerships for affordable housing.

In 2003, CMHC’s Centre for Public Private Partnerships in Housing facilitated

over 80 housing projects representing almost 6,000 units. More than 30,000

units have been produced since the Centre was established.

In addition, CMHC supports the creation of affordable housing through

research and demonstration activities.

CMHC facilitates access to low-cost financing of affordable housing

projects through mortgage loan insurance and securitization activities. CMHC

is the only mortgage insurance provider for rental housing projects.

For homeowners, CMHC made homeownership more affordable through a 15 per

cent reduction in homeowner premiums for mortgage loan insurance, effective

July 14, 2003.

In 2002/03, CMHC directed close to $105.5 million to on-reserve housing

programs. As well, CMHC is helping to build the capacity of First Nations to

address their own housing needs and manages a Housing Internship Initiative

for First Nations and Inuit Youth.

In addition, $405 million was allocated by the federal government for the

three-year extension of the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative to

help communities sustain their efforts to address homelessness.