Our 2020 Northern Housing Report discusses housing market conditions in the North. It focuses on the 3 major centres in the Territories: Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit.
High housing costs makes homeownership difficult
The high cost of housing in the territories makes homeownership difficult. Here is some high-level market affordability data in the three regions:
- In 2018, an estimated 18% of total households in Whitehorse were not able to secure market housing without help.
- For households who could afford housing on their own, 20% were able to afford a unit in the rental market. However, buying a single detached home needed an annual household income of at least $114,749.
- 21.6% of the dwellings in the Northwest Territories were considered not affordable.
- In Yellowknife, 29.3% of housing units were considered not affordable.
- Over a 10-year period (2009-2019), the proportion of houses with affordability issues more than doubled in Yellowknife, from 14% in 2009 to 29% in 2019.
- In 2018, nearly 40% of households in Nunavut were not able to secure market housing without some sort of assistance.
- Of the households that can secure market housing without assistance, the majority are able to afford a unit in the rental market
- It would take an income level of roughly $139,000 to afford the purchase of a single detached home.
Nunavut has the lowest vacancy rate in Canada among its social and affordable housing
CMHC collects information about social and affordable housing structures through the Social and Affordable Housing Survey — Rental Structures (SAHS-RS). The SAHS-RS is part of the National Housing Strategy.
Here are some highlights on the social and affordable rental units in the North. According to results released in December 2019:
- There were 715 social and affordable rental units, of which 493 units were in Whitehorse and 222 units in rural centres.
- The vacancy rate for social and affordable rental units was 0.6% in Yukon, 0.0% in Whitehorse and 1.4% in rural centres.
- The average rent for two-bedroom social and affordable housing units was relatively the same across Yukon, at around $695 per month.
In the Northwest Territories:
- There were 2,330 social and affordable rental units, representing 0.5% of the total in Canada.
- Only 10% of the social and affordable rental units were located in Yellowknife, with the remaining 90% located in rural centres.
- The vacancy rate for social and affordable rental units was 2.1%.
- There were 5,568 social and affordable rental units in Nunavut, roughly 1.0% of the Canadian total.
- The vacancy rate for social and affordable rental units was 0.2%, the experience among all provinces and territories in Canada.
- The average rent for social and affordable housing units was $302, the lowest average rents in Canada.
Nunavut has a high percentage of households in core housing need
Across the territories, the percentage of households in core housing need varied by household type and tenure. A household is in core housing need if it does not meet one or more of three standards: adequacy, suitability or affordability. The affordability criteria relies on a benchmark of 30% before-tax income to indicate core housing need.
According to the 2016 Census:
- In Whitehorse, around 13% of households were in core housing need, compared to 15% in Yukon and 13% nationally.
- In Yellowknife, around 10.6% of households were in core housing need, compared to 15.4% in the Northwest Territories.
- In Iqaluit, around 18.1% of households were experiencing core housing need, compared to 36.5% of households in Nunavut in Canada.