Monday, October 1, 2012

Affordable Housing a Growing But Invisible Problem: World Habitat Day Survey

photo credit: Imagine Canada via Flickr

TORONTO, October 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, on World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council released survey results showing that while 64 percent of Canadians believe housing will be less affordable in the future, few feel affordable housing is a problem in their community.

According to Brett Marchand, National Leadership Council Chair, these results highlight the fact that although Canadians see the warning signs, few appreciate the extent of housing need across the country.

"When housing costs are unmanageable, families are forced to make impossible choices to get by, such as whether they can afford to feed their children breakfast before school or keep the heat on at night," said Marchand. "A lack of affordable housing also restricts low-income families' ability to break the cycle of poverty, which increases the likelihood of long-term reliance on social services."

Affordable housing is defined as a situation where housing costs - rent or mortgage payments and property taxes, and electricity, water, fuel and other municipal services - amount to less than 30 percent of a household's total before-tax income1. The survey found that households in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario were most at risk of exceeding this limit - provinces where Habitat for Humanity expects to cumulatively build upwards of 180 homes this year.

Across Canada, Habitat for Humanity Canada has achieved significant milestones this year. In addition to it shaping up to be a record-breaking year when it comes to the number of affordable homes built nationwide, one of these projects was the organization's first on First Nations settlement land. As part of a five-year goal, the organization is determined to build 1,800 homes by 2016 - the same number it originally took 25 years to achieve.

Among the survey's other findings:

...35 per cent of Canadians bought fewer groceries due to sky-high housing costs - a figure that jumps to 46 percent in the Atlantic provinces.

...More than 1 in 4 Canadians have put off paying bills in order to make rent.

...84 per cent of Canadians believe that the government should do more to address the issue of affordable housing.

"It's important that Canadians understand that housing must stay affordable," Marchand continued. "We can't afford to believe that it's someone else's problem. The problem exists all around us, in every city and in every neighbourhood. Sometimes, it's right next door."

About Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council

Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council is a group of influential Canadians brought together by their belief that safe, decent, affordable housing is key to building stronger communities and therefore a stronger Canada. Together they are working to raise the profile of the affordable housing issue by acting as Habitat ambassadors locally and globally.

Habitat for Humanity Canada welcomes these new members to the National Leadership Council:

...Dave Tuccaro, President, Tuccaro Inc. Group of Companies

...Dave Perkins, President & CEO, Molson Coors Canada

...Vi Konkle, President & CEO, The Brick Group

...Avi Kahn, President & General Manager, Hilti (Canada) Corporation

A full list of Council members can be viewed at

About Habitat for Humanity Canada

Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, non-profit organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 50,000 volunteers every year and 69 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty in Canada and around the world. For more information on Habitat for Humanity Canada, please visit

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