The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association – an active partner of ours at the Canadian Homelessness Research Network – posted a great infographic on National Housing Day, Nov. 22nd titled “The State of Housing in Canada”. The infographic highlights key points on affordable housing data across the country and builds on past research, including their affordable housing fact sheet from 2011.

There are strong links between housing and homelessness. Research shows that a lack of affordable housing can affect other areas of daily living including food securityeducation and health care.

Professor David Hulchanski from the University of Toronto said a few years ago, “We need to separate out the one common feature shared by all homeless people from all the other complex social situations associated with the word homelessness. The best summary of the core of the problem came from long-time U.S. housing researcher and activist Cushing Dolbeare about 10 years ago. It is a statement I quote often.”

She wrote:

“The one thing all homeless people have in common is a lack of housing. Whatever other problems they face, adequate, stable, affordable housing is a prerequisite to solving them. Homelessness may not be only a housing problem, but it is always a housing problem; housing is necessary, although sometimes not sufficient, to solve the problem of homelessness.”

It is impossible to think about solutions to homelessness without also thinking about solving the affordable housing shortage in this country.

Some key facts from the infographic:

  • 1 in 4 households live in unaffordable housing. Of this number, 37% of households receiving subsidized rent still find their housing to be unaffordable, as do 40% of non-subsidized renters and 18% of homeowners.
  • As Canadian housing policy has changed over the years that has been a decrease in the number of social housing units receiving federal funding including a loss of 18,400 units between 2011 and 2013.
  • 1 in 3 Canadians rent.
  • Only 10% of the housing built in the past 15 years has been rental housing.
  • Rents rose 2.7% but wages only 1.9% rose between 2012 and 2013.

This is great and informative research. Similar research has been done in other countries including the United States and Australia which indicate this phenomenon is not unique to Canada. Since the “right to housing” is guaranteed in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is well past time to address the issue.

 State of Housing in canada

Tanya Gulliver-GarciaResearch CoordinatorCanadian Observatory on Homelessness/Homeless Hub; York University