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November 2006
Vol. 7, no. 11

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Measuring housing affordability
Jacqueline Luffman

  • In 2004, about 1 in 7 (1.7 million) households saw 30% or more of their spending go for shelter. Renters were much more likely than owners to fall into this category—31% compared with 6%.
  • Renters spending 30% or more on shelter were more likely to be individuals living alone, and those spending 50% or more were more likely to be reliant on government transfers (81%).
  • Spending on rent varied considerably across the country. For the most part, the larger the city, the higher the costs. In the largest cities, just under a third of renters spent 30% or more on shelter, compared with just 19% in rural areas. Even after taking into account income levels and other household characteristics, Toronto and Calgary renters had four times the odds of spending 30% or more on shelter than renters in rural areas.
  • Regardless of whether the household consisted of an individual living alone, a lone-parent family, or a senior family, being in low income was a highly significant factor in shelter-cost burden. Renters with household income up to $19,190 a year had 18 times the odds of being cost-burdened compared with those in the top half of the income distribution.

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Jacqueline Luffman is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at 613-951-1563 or

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