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The dynamics of housing affordability

  • by Willa Rea, Jennifer Yuen, John Engeland and Roberto Figueroa


  • Around one-fifth of persons in Canada lived in households spending more than the affordability benchmark (30% of before-tax income spent on shelter) for any given year between 2002 and 2004.

  • On a longitudinal basis, the percentage of persons in households exceeding the affordability benchmark was less than 9% for those exceeding the benchmark in all of the three years between 2002 and 2004. Another 19% lived in households spending above the benchmark for either one or two years.

  • The attributes associated with the highest probabilities of living in a household spending above the affordability benchmark were: living alone, being a female lone parent, renting, being an immigrant, or living in Vancouver or Toronto.

  • Persons living in households experiencing a transition between 2002 and 2004 had a higher probability of exceeding the benchmark at least once during this period. Such transitions included changing rent-subsidy status, changing from owner to renter or vice versa, changing family type (for example, marrying or divorcing), and moving between cities. These transitions did not increase the probability of exceeding the benchmark persistently.

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