Canadians believe we need affordable housing solutions
A majority of Canadians have made it clear: we are not paying enough attention to affordable housing needs and solutions, according to a new Habitat for Humanity Affordable Housing Survey.
“Ten years ago, affordable housing was a hidden issue – it affected so many people and yet no one was talking about it,” said Mark Rodgers, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “It’s clear from the results of this survey that people understand how important having access to decent and affordable housing is. But they feel that not enough is being done to solve the problem. At Habitat, we’ll continue to partner with communities, governments, as well as the not-for-profit and private sectors to provide long-term solutions to affordable housing issues for working families, while urging the government to include affordable homeownership as part of the solution as it develops a national housing strategy for all Canadians.”
On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, PSB Researched surveyed 1,000 people in the United States and Canada, examining the perceptions, challenges and benefits of affordable housing in both countries. The survey was conducted ahead of Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which will build over 150 homes in Canada this summer.
“Rosalynn and I are pleased to be bringing together volunteers to build alongside families during this year’s Carter Work Project,” said Carter while at a build site in Edmonton. “Housing affordability in Canada is at an all-time low. We are proud supporters of Habitat for Humanity and grateful to everyone who is joining us in our efforts to bring affordable housing to families across the country.”
“The homes we are building in Canada will bring much needed stability to so many families,” said Rodgers. “We are thrilled to be welcoming President and Mrs. Carter to Canada and to see so many communities across the country coming together during this one week to help empower families through affordable homeownership.”
Since 1984, the Carters have traveled around the world with Habitat, donating their time and voices annually to build and improve homes and raise awareness of the critical need for decent and affordable housing. Inspiring millions over the last three decades, the Carters have worked alongside nearly 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,000 homes.
Homeownership remains a top achievement for most people. Nine out of 10 Canadians (91 per cent) say that owning a home is one of their greatest achievements in life. Among renters, a majority of Canadians (77 per cent) cite owning a home as one of their top goals.
While homeownership has become much more challenging for Canadians, it remains completely out of reach for many low-income families. That means too many are without access to safe, secure and affordable housing. Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership bridges a gap for people, providing working families on low incomes with the opportunity to purchase their own Habitat home.
Survey respondents identified high cost as the top barrier to homeownership (91 per cent in Canada), followed closely by difficulties obtaining a mortgage (75 per cent). Most do not expect the situation to get much better: a majority of Canadian respondents (84 per cent) believe housing costs will go up in the next five years.
According to the survey, most Canadians have struggled with housing costs at some point in their lives, and over 40 per cent currently struggle to pay housing costs. In order to pay those costs, many have had to cut back in other important areas such as food (40 per cent), dental care (30 per cent) or education (12 per cent).
Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership helps families build strength, stability and independence – and builds stronger, healthier communities at the same time. Affordable housing is a foundation for reducing poverty and achieving economic growth, with the potential to positively impact an even wider range of societal issues.
A 2015 Boston Consulting Group report on Habitat for Humanity Canada’s social impact calculated that for every $1 invested in Habitat, there are $4 worth of benefits to the community, resulting in almost $48 million of benefits in 2016. According to the survey, many Canadians know that access to decent and affordable housing can contribute to a community’s overall health and help kids do better in school. At least eight out of 10 Canadians agree that having affordable, stable housing contributes to public health (87 per cent), community safety (90 per cent), economic growth (92 per cent) and children’s education (91 per cent).
Continuing Habitat’s action on this issue, from July 9 to 14, former President Carter and his wife participated in Habitat’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, focusing their efforts on Edmonton and Winnipeg. Almost 50 communities across Canada will be participating, helping build over 150 homes alongside 150 families to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.