CMHC started collecting characteristics about Social and Affordable Housing Structures as part of the Housing Needs Data Initiative under the National Housing Strategy. This is done through the survey of Social and Affordable Housing — Rental Structures. The goal of this survey is to develop data and indicators to understand progress towards improved housing outcomes.
The first survey was a census. The target population was all structures in all provinces and territories with at least one rental unit subsidized by a public entity. This could be a public entity like the federal government, provincial government and municipal government. It can be by a private entity like non-profits, co-ops or faith-based organizations.
Data collection for the first cycle of the survey took place over the course of 1 year starting in November 2018. Data was collected at a structure/project level and included information such as:
- number of units
- dwelling type
- number of units by bedroom type
- targeted clientele
- unoccupied units
- services offered
Respondents included providers of social and affordable housing including different levels of government, non-profit organizations, cooperatives, and private companies.
Four approaches including online were used in the first cycle of the survey to maximize response rates:
- CMHC web portal
- telephone interviews
- sites visit
The main methodology used for data collection remained phone calls to pre-identified contacts, usually property managers or owners. Respondents were encouraged to provide CMHC’s survey team with administrative data through rent rolls or pre-formatted Microsoft® Excel® templates.
In most provinces, the survey is a census of all social and affordable rental housing structures with the following exceptions:
- only provincially administered social housing structures are included in New Brunswick
- only cooperatives, non-profits and some para-municipal administered buildings were included (structures managed by the Société d’habitation du Québec were excluded)
- in Saskatchewan, data was only collected for provincially administered buildings and CMHC administered buildings
CMHC hopes to continue to expand the coverage of this survey in future cycles.
Administrative Body: This refers to who owns the individual social and affordable housing structure. If it is solely owned/administered by 1 or more levels of government, it is classified as being administered by the Government. Levels of government include: Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Municipal or Aboriginal.
Rent: The rent refers to the actual amount tenants pay for their unit. No adjustments are made for the inclusion or exclusion of amenities and services such as heat, hydro, parking, and hot water.
Rent Mechanism: Rents charged for units in Social and Affordable Rental Housing structures are determined in many different ways. They could be set:
- to cover the costs of operating the building
- as a proportion of a household’s income
- as a proportion of the market rent, or
- as a proportion of the market rent in a given area
Unoccupied: A unit is considered unoccupied if, at the time of the survey, it is physically unoccupied. These units could be unoccupied for any number of reasons:
- administrative delays as tenants changeover
- they are under repair or renovation
- they are actually physically unoccupied and available for occupancy
Vacancy: A unit is considered vacant if, at the time of the survey, it is physically unoccupied and available for immediate rental.
Data reliability measures
CMHC does not publish a statistic if its reliability is too low or if publication of a statistic would violate confidentiality rules. The ability to publish an estimate is generally determined by its statistical reliability. As indicated earlier, CMHC currently uses the coefficient of variation.
A letter code representing the statistical reliability for each estimate is provided to indicate the data reliability. The coefficient of variation of an estimate is defined as both the:
- ratio of the standard error of the estimate to the estimate itself
- coefficient of variation generally expressed a percentage
For example, let the average rent for 1-bedroom apartments in a given CMA be x̄ and its standard error be σx̄. Then the coefficient of variation — or CV — is given by CV = σx̄ / x̄.
Reliability codes for proportions
CMHC uses coefficient of variation, sampling fraction and universe size to determine the ability to publish proportions. The following letter codes are used to indicate the level of reliability of proportions:
- a — Excellent
- b — Very good
- c — Good
- d — Poor (Use with caution)
- e — Very Poor (Use with extreme caution)
- ** Data Suppressed
- N/A — Data not available, meaning that there aren’t any existing units the universe for this category