Policymakers ought to look at new housing knowledge earlier than proposing options

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There has been a lack of consensus among the various government actions in the past on the actions needed to address various housing challenges

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Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis, Special to Financial Post Apartment buildings in Burnaby, BC on June 3, 2019.Apartment buildings in Burnaby, BC on June 3, 2019. Photo by SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg Files

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Canadians’ housing experiences and unmet needs are diverse, in some cases vastly different, and not just limited to the various cohorts of homeowners and tenants. Because of this, policy makers and the private sector need to gain deep insight before attempting to offer solutions.

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Fortunately, recent data and reports from Statistics Canada’s 2018 Canadian Housing Survey have begun to document the true state of the market, including deeper insights into housing for select demographics and races.

The data shows that Canada is a nation of homeowners. Almost three in four Canadians (73 percent) lived in a household member’s private home. Of 10.14 million condominium households, 42 percent lived in a mortgage-free home.

A comparison of the average cost of housing shows that owners spend more ($ 1,140 / month) on housing than renters ($ 960). However, this comparison paints only a partial picture, as tenants, despite their lower cost of accommodation, appear worse off if other metrics on the affordability of housing apply.

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The Canadian Bureau of Statistics estimates that households spend less than 30 percent of their total income on housing in order to live in affordable housing. Accordingly, more than one in five households (22 percent) is confronted with affordability problems. But the numbers are relatively higher for tenant households, of which 33 percent said they spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, compared with just 17 percent of homeowners.

Affordability is just one dimension of a less desirable living experience. Another relevant aspect is suitability for living. Statistics Canada considers a home suitable if its size and features are consistent with the composition of the household where it is living. Here, too, tenants do worse than residents of condominiums. Only three percent of homeowners live in unsuitable apartments, compared to nine percent of tenants.

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Another useful metric deals with key housing needs. The Canadian Bureau of Statistics states that “a household has a core housing requirement when their home falls below at least one of the affordable, fitness, or condition standards of the home and is required to spend 30 percent or more of their total before gaining tax revenue to meet the median acceptable rent alternative local apartments to pay. “

A comparison between tenant and owner-occupied households shows again a huge division: 23 percent of tenant households were in the core housing requirement compared to seven percent of the residents of condominiums. In addition, tenant households are less satisfied with their apartments and residential areas.

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Further insight emerges when these numbers are broken down into smaller groups. For example, 27 percent of Canadians of South Asian descent found it unaffordable to buy a home compared to 15 percent of the general population. But the incidence of pricelessness does not differ statistically between tenants of South Asian origin and the others. Similarly, a greater proportion of the senior citizens of homeowners and tenants had core housing needs than the general population.

Remember that access to decent housing is enshrined in the National Housing Strategy Act of 2019 as “a fundamental human right”. is affordable; is habitable; provides access to the basic infrastructure; is close to jobs, services and facilities; is accessible to people of all abilities; and is culturally appropriate. “

The various actions of governments in the past have failed to show a consensus on the actions needed to solve various housing challenges, which has prevented them from delivering solutions on a large scale. The federal government must act quickly to get provincial and local governments to work together to realize the rights enshrined in the National Housing Strategy Act.

Murtaza Haider is Professor of Real Estate Management at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached on the Haider-Moranis Bulletin website www.hmbulletin.com.

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