WHEN IT COMES TO HOUSING, WHO DEFINES AFFORDABLE?
For years, we have been reading about affordable housing and how difficult it is to find in Ontario, and in fact across Canada. But what does the word “affordable” mean? Who defines it?
CMHC has defined it to mean that a home or condominium costs less than 30 per cent of your total household before-tax income (https://bit.ly/3LZ9g2R). According to Loans Canada (https://loanscanada.ca/money/affordable-housing-crisis-in-canada/), millions of Canadians are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs. Unfortunately, for many people, keeping that spending under 30 per cent is inadequate to allow them to stay in their current homes or buy new ones.
Statistics Canada and CMHC reported that in 2018, more than 1.6 million Canadians lived in core housing need, which means they lived in unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable dwellings and could not afford alternative accommodations (https://bit.ly/38yW0U3). One can only imagine how that number has grown since the pandemic and soaring home prices. What held true long ago is irrelevant today, when the average house in the GTA costs over a million dollars. The average home price for Canada as a whole hit an all-time high in January of this year, at $748,439.
Ultimately, home buyers define “affordable” according to their pocketbooks, but it seems like we need special definitions of “affordable” depending on where in Canada we live.