HOME OWN­ER­SHIP: A re­cent poll shows that more than 40 per cent of Cana­di­ans find hous­ing un­af­ford­able

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JOR­DAN PRESS OT­TAWA —

Feel like a house in your city is un­af­ford­able? Ap­par­ently, you’re not alone.

A new poll sug­gests that just over two in five Cana­di­ans be­lieve hous­ing in this coun­try is not affordable for them, a find­ing that cuts al­most evenly across in­come levels.

The poll by EKOS Re­search ap­pears even more bleak in some of Canada’s hottest hous­ing mar­kets, where only a small sliver of re­spon­dents said they be­lieve homes are affordable.

The data closely lines up with more for­mal bench­marks the fed­eral gov­ern­ment uses to mea­sure af­ford­abil­ity, as well as other data about the cost of hous­ing, whether pur­chased or rented.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment has promised a na­tional hous­ing strat­egy to help Cana­di­ans find and af­ford suit­able hous­ing, part of a larger strat­egy to re­duce poverty. But the poll sug­gests the gov­ern­ment is also deal­ing with pub­lic fears about af­ford­abil­ity.

“It’s a deeply trou­bling find­ing that in cer­tain por­tions of Canada, ei­ther ge­o­graph­i­cally or so­ci­etally, that this is a cri­sis level,” said Frank Graves, pres­i­dent of EKOS Re­search.

The poll found about half of re­spon­dents who consider them­selves poor or work­ing class be­lieve that the cost of lo­cal hous­ing is be­yond their means. The rate was 38 per cent and 37 per cent, re­spec­tively, with re­spon­dents who consider them­selves mid­dle or up­per class.

Look­ing at cities, only six per cent of re­spon­dents in Toronto and two per cent in Van­cou­ver said they be­lieve hous­ing was affordable. In Cal­gary, the num­ber was 11 per cent; in Mon­treal, 22 per cent.

The re­sults of the tele­phone poll of 5,658 Cana­di­ans, con­ducted be­tween June 1 and 19, are con­sid­ered ac­cu­rate to within 1.3 per­cent­age points, 19 times out of 20.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment hopes to halve the num­ber of the hard­est-to-help home­less, lift­ing tens of thou­sands out of “core hous­ing need” — mean­ing they spend more than one-third of their be­fore-tax in­come on hous­ing that may be sub­stan­dard or doesn’t meet their needs.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment be­lieves the big­gest im­pact could be on renters who are stretched fi­nan­cially in many of Canada’s big­gest cities.

Re­search from the Univer­sity of Cal­gary’s School of Pub­lic Pol­icy finds that af­ford­abil­ity crunch is most acute in Cal­gary, Van­cou­ver and Toronto, where a low-in­come fam­ily can spend up­wards of half their in­come on the low­est-priced apart­ments.

Dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions in dif­fer­ent cities make craft­ing a na­tional hous­ing strat­egy a chal­lenge, be­cause it must ac­count for re­gional vari­a­tions in in­comes and costs, the school says in its June re­search note.

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers are ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to pri­or­i­tize fed­eral spend­ing to re­pair ex­ist­ing and con­struct new affordable hous­ing units to deal with chronic short­ages and deep­en­ing poverty in Canada.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is also rec­om­mend­ing the gov­ern­ment pro­vide di­rect hous­ing sup­port to new­com­ers to Canada and pro­vide more help for In­dige­nous peo­ples liv­ing in ur­ban cen­tres.

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