From 2011 to 2016, the number of senior households in core housing need in Canada rose by 21.0%. For non-senior households, the increase was 5.1%. When it comes to housing, it’s clear that seniors are a vulnerable group. Addressing their housing challenges is therefore a priority of our National Housing Strategy.
We recently studied data on seniors’ housing conditions from the 2011 and 2016 censuses. Our research led to interesting findings on senior households in core housing need.
Seniors make up a large proportion of Canadians in core housing need
In our study, we looked at both senior and non-senior households. Here’s what we found:
- In Canada, senior households made up 28.2% of all households in core housing need in 2016. The percentages were as high as 33.1% in Saskatchewan and as low as 8.3% in Nunavut.
- From 2011 to 2016, the number of senior households in core housing need rose more quickly compared to non-senior households. For senior households Canada-wide, the increase was 21.0% (see figure 1). For non-senior households, it was 5.1%.
- In 2016, the incidence of core housing need for senior households Canada-wide was 14.0%. For non-senior households, it was 12.2%.
Senior homeowners fared better than senior renters
We also compared senior renter and owner households. This is what we learned:
- From 2011 to 2016, the number of senior renter households in core housing need Canada-wide increased by 28.5%. For senior owner households, the increase was 11.6%.
- Nearly 60% of senior households in core housing need Canada-wide in 2016 were in rental housing.
- In 2016, the incidence of core housing need for senior renter households in Canada was 32.8%. For senior owner households, it was 7.7%.
One-person households are generally the most vulnerable
Here’s what breaking down the data by household type revealed:
- Among senior households, core housing need was highest for one-person households. For female-led one-person senior households, the incidence of core housing need Canada-wide was 27.3% in 2016. For male-led one-person senior households, it was 23.3%.
- Female-led one-person households also made up the largest proportion of senior households in core housing need Canada-wide in 2016 (53.8%). Male-led one-person households made up the next highest proportion (21.0%).
- From 2011 to 2016, the number of senior households in core housing need Canada-wide grew most for two-or-more-person households (41.8%). Male-led one-person households had the next highest level of growth (40.5%).
Unaffordable housing a major concern for seniors
Why are seniors falling into core housing need? In 2016, 85.6% of senior households in core housing need lived in housing that didn’t meet the affordability standard alone. (We say “alone,” meaning that housing did meet the other standards: suitability and adequacy.) Unaffordability was therefore, by far, the main reason senior households were in core housing need.
Meeting the needs of vulnerable Canadians
With this type of research, we hope to show the importance of prioritizing the housing needs of vulnerable Canadians. We also want to guide housing stakeholders in the right direction by making them aware of these needs.