A new survey finds Canadians rank affordable housing as a top issue facing the country, with limited supply, inflation and discrimination all adding to soured sentiment.
The data, released by Habitat for Humanity Canada, unpacks perspective towards homeownership, lack of housing supply and increased cost of living.
“This survey underscores how deeply concerned Canadians are about their housing situations and futures as affordable housing becomes increasingly out of reach,” Julia Deans, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada, said in a press release. “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.”
The vast majority of Canadians surveyed (96 per cent) claimed their own cost of living has increased this past year, and 78 per cent claim they need to limit their spending budget on food, transportation and debt payments.
Among homeowners and renters, 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they are concerned about paying their mortgage or rent over the next year, and one quarter (27 per cent) are feeling generally pessimistic about the country’s housing problems.
The survey results also broke down differing outlooks dependent on age demographics. Gen Zs and Millennials, for instance, were reported to be more than twice as likely to be concerned about paying their rent or mortgage than Boomers. Canadians aged 26 to 34 (Millennials) were found to be the most pessimistic towards housing sentiment — more than Gen Zers, Gen Xers, and Boomers.
The results also suggest that a lack of housing supply is the largest factor of concern when it comes to the affordability crisis, with 90 per cent of Canadians surveyed believing that a shortage in affordable homes is the main problem.
But the findings indicate another problem is adding to the crisis: discrimination.
The survey states that one-in-10 prospective homebuyers or renters have encountered racism, sexism or various forms of discrimination during their pursuit to find a home. BIPOC Canadians, the results say, were more than twice as likely (18 per cent) as non-BIPOC Canadians (8 per cent) to have experienced some degree of discrimination while considering housing options.
Some discrimination, the results say, is rooted in an acronym: “NIMBY.” It stands for “Not In My Back Yard” – a term deployed for neighbourhoods who reject the development of affordable units in their region.
The survey claims that more than half of Canadians (54 per cent) feel that NIMBYism is the leading barrier in increasing the amount of affordable homes. Seventy-one per cent of Canadians agree with the statement that “people worry about the impact of affordable housing on their property values and neighborhood,” the survey indicates.
Despite this soured sentiment, Deans believes there’s still reason to hope.
“In our work, we see firsthand how access to stable housing transforms futures and fosters resiliency across generations,” Deans said. “We must act now, and we must act together towards addressing the systemic barriers and creating sustainable solutions to achieve affordable housing for all.”