Housing Affordability Top Concern for Canadians: Survey

A new survey released by Habitat for Humanity Canada finds Canadians rank affordable housing as the third most important issue facing the country today, behind inflation and healthcare.
The Habitat for Humanity Canada Affordable Housing Survey, which measured the perceptions of Canadians, also sheds light on growing concerns and barriers to homeownership including lack of housing supply, increased cost of living, discrimination, NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) sentiment and more.

“This survey underscores how deeply concerned Canadians are about their housing situations and futures as affordable housing becomes increasingly out of reach,” says Julia Deans, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “To address these growing concerns and make affordable housing and homeownership a reality for all Canadians, we need an all-in approach from non-profits, businesses, individuals and all levels of government.”

According to the Habitat Canada Affordable Housing Survey, almost all Canadians (96 per cent) surveyed said their cost of living has increased this past year and four-in-five Canadians (78 per cent) are worried about having to spend less on food, savings, transportation costs, and/or debt payments to continue to afford their current housing. Other key concerns include:

  • Forty per cent of Canadians are concerned about paying their mortgage or rent over the next 12 months
  • Gen Zs (51 per cent) and Millennials (52 per cent) are more than twice as likely to be concerned about paying their rent or mortgage than Boomers (23 per cent)
  • Almost three-in-ten Canadians (28 per cent) cannot currently afford a down payment of any amount towards a home
  • One-quarter of Canadians (27 per cent) are feeling pessimistic about whether much can be done to deal with Canada’s housing problems, and Millennials – those aged 26 to 41, are the most pessimistic (34 per cent), compared to Gen Zers, Gen Xers and Boomers

Nine-in-ten Canadians (90 per cent) believe that there is a shortage of affordable housing in Canada and four-in-ten (43 per cent) see lack of housing supply as one of the greatest contributors to making housing less affordable, ahead of foreign buyers (40 per cent), and investment firms buying homes (36 per cent).

Half of Canadians (54 per cent) feel that NIMBY sentiment is one of the main barriers to making affordable housing available in neighborhoods. Interestingly, 71 per cent of Canadians agree with the statement that ‘people worry about the impact of affordable housing on their property values and neighborhood’. 

Discrimination is also a barrier to accessing affordable housing according to the survey. One-in-ten Canadians (11 per cent) have experienced racism, sexism, and/or other discrimination during their pursuit of housing, with BIPOC Canadians being more than twice as likely as non-BIPOC Canadians to have experienced discrimination (18 per cent vs. 8 per cent).

Three-quarters of Canadians (75 per cent) believe that more affordable housing could solve the social issues we are currently facing as a country, and despite the growing concerns and barriers to homeownership, the majority of Canadians (87 per cent) agree that owning a home can create more stability in one’s life. Furthermore, 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed agree that homeownership can improve educational opportunities for themselves and their families and 73 per cent agree that homeownership can strengthen ties to their community.

“In our work, we see firsthand how access to stable housing transforms futures and fosters resiliency across generations,” says Deans. “We must act now, and we must act together towards addressing the systemic barriers and creating sustainable solutions to achieve affordable housing for all.”

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