North

Canadian Rental Housing Index shows unaffordability across the country

A new study ranking rental housing affordability across the country shows the North being more affordable than the provinces relative to incomes, but a Yukon organization involved in the study says that's not a good benchmark.

'There is a role for both the federal and the territorial governments to play in this issue' says Yukon group

The Canadian Rental Housing Index, created by a coalition of housing groups across the country, ranks the Northwest Territories as the most affordable region in Canada, based on average household income. (Canadian Rental Housing Index)

A new study ranking rental housing affordability across the country shows the North being more affordable than the provinces relative to incomes, but a Yukon organization involved in the study says that's not a good benchmark. 

"It paints a fairly obvious picture that across the country ... affordable rental housing is an issue," said Kristina Craig, coordinator of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. 

The Canadian Rental Housing Index, created by housing organizations across the country, assesses rental housing by affordability, overspending, income gap, overcrowding and bedroom shortfall. 

While Yukon and Nunavut are ranked as having "poor" overall affordability, the Northwest Territories is ranked "moderate," likely due to its average household income of nearly $84,000. Those rankings certainly aren't good, but aren't as dismal as the provinces, with affordability rankings of "critical" or "severe," with the exception of New Brunswick. 

The study says a third of renters in the Yukon spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, which the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation says is the "cut-off" line for affordability.

"There's a striking number of [Yukoners] who are actually spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing," said Craig. 

The lower a person's income, the more of an impact high rent prices have on people's lives, she pointed out.  

In Nunavut, the problem is mainly overcrowding, with a third of renters living in overcrowded conditions, according to the rental index. 

Craig said the information available in the index can help inform regional housing action plans, but she said the market alone cannot respond to affordability issues. 

"There is a role for both the federal and the territorial governments to play in this issue."

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