What does affordable mean?

In short, it’s 30% (or less) of your gross income (before tax is taken off) going towards your shelter costs.

CHMC has a great definition to clarify affordable, social and subsidized housing:

“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.”  (emphasis added)

Source: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/afhoce_021.cfm

But what should be included in your shelter costs? Rent vs. Mortgage and Property taxes? Strata fees? Should utilities be taken into account?

Let’s run through a couple examples:

1. You work 40 hours a week, earning $12/hour. Your income is about $2000 per month. To be affordable, your housing should cost you no more than $600/month.

2. You are a salary employee, making $947/week (the average in BC as of Sept 2017), so just under $50,000/year, or $4,100/month. To be affordable, your housing should cost you no more than $1230/month.

3. Your household makes $70,336/year (the average for Canada in the 2016 census) or $5860/month. To be affordable, your housing should cost you no more than $1760/month.

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