Housing and rental affordability are issues in Canada. This issue isn’t something that happened because of the pandemic; exacerbated, yes, but it’s not a new problem – it has been an issue for the past decade. It continues to be one, as one-in-five families cannot comfortably afford safe and stable housing, and women, children, and visible minorities are affected the most. We see it in our current markets, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Edmonton, Alberta, as well as across the nation. Affordable housing options are harder to find than ever, especially if you’re searching for a rental home.
What are affordable housing and affordable rental rates?
The government of Canada states that housing should not take up more than 30% of your household budget. You need to include all your utilities, like heat, electricity, and water; anything more than that means you’re spending too much on housing and have to cut back on other expenses. For those who need to see the numbers to get a clearer picture, here is an example: if a single parent family earns a living wage of $16.23 in Regina, $33,758 per year, you would want to spend no more than $10,127 per year on housing expenses. This yearly budget equates to $844 in rent each month. Saskatchewan’s average “in-market rental” is approximately $1,049 per month. At this price, it is tough for single parents to be able to provide a safe space for their families.
Who is disproportionately affected by the rising cost of living?
Women in Canada are more likely than men to be single parents. In fact, women make up 77% of single-parent families. Single women with children are overrepresented in the rental communities, and over half of them are in situations where they can’t comfortably afford their current housing. Couple this with the fact that women are paid less than men for the same position, and you can see a sad truth beginning to appear.
But why affordable housing?
Keeping a roof over your head is not the only thing your monthly paycheck goes towards. Your funds must be used for other basic needs, which are also becoming even more expensive. By the time you get through all of the necessities, there is a good chance there may be nothing left. How is it possible for these families to get a place where they can grow? Affordable housing helps people get back on their feet, no matter where they have come from. It helps prevent homelessness by giving people more stability in their lives. It can help someone escape a dangerous situation. It can be a hand-up when life is giving them a push-down.
Creating more affordable housing options in cities across the country gives people the chance to thrive instead of just getting by and surviving. That is the reason our work is so important. That is the reason we choose to do the work that we do. By providing quality affordable housing that meets the needs of residents and local communities, you can help lift people out of bad situations and help them thrive in our neighbourhoods.
Avana has developed or is in the development of over 1,100 homes in Edmonton and Regina, and more than 70% of those are considered affordable. We are not alone in this fight, however. With support from organizations like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the federal government, we can maximize our impact. However, we extend beyond the minimum requirements to maintain those partnerships. When the federal government gives us a partial loan with the condition that 30% of the units must be designated affordable, we dedicate even more.
If people can find stability in the affordable rental homes we provide, it is one step in the right direction, and we believe that access to a safe and stable environment is a human right. So much so that we will go above and beyond to make this a reality for all individuals in the communities with which we serve.