About Affordable Housing in Canada
An efficient and well-functioning housing sector enables the marketplace to be the primary vehicle to meet the shelter needs of Canadians. In Canada, the housing needs of some 80 per cent of Canadian households are being met through the marketplace, supported by CMHC's housing finance activities. CMHC provides a wide range of mortgage loan insurance products for owner occupied and rental housing, including large rental buildings, nursing and retirement homes, and housing in rural and smaller communities. Mortgage loan insurance helps borrowers obtain financing at competitive interest rates. CMHC's securitization programs enhance the supply of low-cost funds for mortgage lending.
However, not all members of society have the financial means to compete effectively in the housing market, nor is the marketplace necessarily able to meet distinct housing needs of some groups, such as persons with disabilities. For those households whose needs cannot be met by the marketplace, governments, community organizations, non-profit and cooperative groups and the private sector are working together to provide affordable housing solutions.
In Canada, housing is considered affordable if shelter costs account for less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income. The term "affordable housing" is often used interchangeably with "social housing"; however, social housing is just one category of affordable housing and usually refers to rental housing subsidized by the government. Affordable housing is a much broader term and includes housing provided by the private, public and not-for-profit sectors as well as all forms of housing tenure (ie. rental, ownership and cooperative ownership). It also includes temporary as well as permanent housing. In other words, the term "affordable housing" can refer to any part of the housing continuum from temporary emergency shelters through transition housing, supportive housing, subsidized housing, market rental housing or market homeownership.