October 5, 2022

New Statistics Canada Data Shows Vancouverites Paying More, Doubling Up at Home

There was a new data release this week from Statistics Canada data that illustrates the changing trends in how people are managing to live and to maintain themselves in tighter housing markets.

As reported by Kerry Gold in the Globe and Mail, there has been a 61 percent growth of households that have three people or more contributing to housing costs and expenses. That is compared to the household growth in Vancouver over the past five years.

These additional people in households called “household maintainers” help pay for rent or mortgage as well as expenses, and can include adult children moving back or room mates.

In the gap between housing affordability and the need for more housing targeted to salary, there is a standard that no more than 30 percent of income should be spent on housing costs. Most people in Vancouver pay much more than that.

This standard has been in place since 1981 that 30 percent of income before taxes, or the gross income should be spent on rent. Anyone paying more than that is determined as being “cost-burdened”.

In Vancouver with the highest housing costs 39.4 percent of people are spending more that that 30 percent, leaving less for supporting small businesses, food and heat.

You can read and interpret the new data set release here.

There’s some cautionary advice too about interpreting the data on people living in core housing need.

Core housing need means “ households living a dwellings considered unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable”.  You can take a look at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) guidelines for defining core need here.
While it appears that Canada’s housing stock identified as core housing need went from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 10.1 percent in 2021, that could also be a result of more housing stock being constructed at the high end, making the core housing need number appear smaller. Duke of Data Simon Fraser University’s Director of the City Program Andy Yan notes that the number of core housing need households increased by nearly 6,000 in nine years, showing the necessity to compare data sets against population and housing stock increases.

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