Twenty two per cent of all renters across Metro Vancouver and 21.3 per cent in B.C. say they spend more than 50 per cent of their gross household income on rent and utilities, according to a Canadian Rental Housing Index report released May 8 by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
Families that spend more than half of their income on housing are considered to be at a “crisis level of spending, putting individuals and families at risk of homelessness,” according to the report.
According to the index, 43.3 per cent of all B.C. renters spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. Across Canada, 795,000 renter households spend more than half their income and 1.7 million spend more than 30 per cent. The report said the data paints a “worrying picture.”
“Traditionally, spending 30 per cent or less of household income on rent has been viewed as the benchmark of what is considered affordable,” said BC Non-Profit Housing Association acting CEO Jill Atkey.
“However, the data shows that spending more than 30 per cent of income on housing has become the new normal for families in almost all areas of Canada.”
Housing affordability issues are also spreading farther than they used to, according to the report, with suburban areas seeing more affordability-related problems than they used to.
“Although large urban centres have long been associated with higher rental housing costs relative to income levels, in the past, renters have been able to find suitable housing by looking in nearby suburban communities,” said Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association executive director Marlene Coffey.
“The 2018 Rental Housing Index shows the suburbanization of poverty where major affordability challenges are just as prevalent in the surrounding communities as they are in those urban centres.”
There is reason to be hopeful that the situation could become less dire, according to the report, as more governments and housing organizations across Canada are turning an “unprecedented focus” onto affordability issues.