When the housing sector is efficient and well-functioning, the marketplace should be able to meet most people’s housing needs. Fortunately, Canada has one of the best housing systems in the world. As a result, almost 80% of Canadian households have their housing needs met through the marketplace, supported by our housing finance activities. Our mortgage loan insurance, for example, helps borrowers get financing at competitive rates.
But not everyone has the financial means to access or compete in the housing market. The marketplace, too, isn’t always able to meet the unique housing needs of certain groups, such as people with disabilities. In these cases, governments, community organizations, non-profits and the private sector work together to provide affordable housing.
What is affordable housing?
In Canada, housing is considered “affordable” if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. Many people think the term “affordable housing” refers only to rental housing that is subsidized by the government. In reality, it’s a very broad term that can include housing provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors. It also includes all forms of housing tenure : rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing.
Since 1946, we’ve been a vital partner in helping Canadians access high-quality affordable housing. The federal government, through CMHC, invests $2 billion every year to ensure Canadians in need can access suitable housing.
Existing social housing
Much of Canada’s social housing was built between 1946 and 1993. The federal government continues to make substantial investments in the existing social housing stock.
In 2016 , the federal government provided almost$1.7 billion to support over 536,000 households living in social housing. Provinces and territories administer 80% of the agreements with social housing providers. We administer the remaining 20%, including on-reserve housing projects in First Nation communities.
Our Affordable Housing Centre works with social housing providers to help keep their housing projects financially viable for the long term.
Investment in Affordable Housing program
The Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) began in 2011. Under the IAH, the federal government is investing over $238 million annually, through March 2019, to help Canadians in housing need.
Under bilateral agreements with CMHC, the provinces and territories match the federal investments with contributions of their own. As housing needs vary across Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for deciding how best to use that funding. They have the flexibility to invest in a range of affordable housing programs and to choose how they’re delivered.
National Housing Strategy
The National Housing Strategy – Canada’s first ever – was announced on November 22, 2017 with the goal of making sure Canadians across the country can access housing that meets their needs and that they can afford.
Building on investments announced in Budgets 2016 and 2017, the NHS is a detailed 10-year, $40 billion plan that will deliver results and benefit all Canadians – including building more affordable, accessible, inclusive and sustainable homes.
The primary focus will be on meeting the needs of vulnerable populations, such as women and children fleeing family violence, seniors, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues, veterans and young adults.
CMHC Affordable Housing Centre
Our team of affordable housing experts helps you build or preserve affordable housing. We provide personalized support, including local expertise and networking opportunities and financial assistance. We understand community needs, and work with partners to offer clients solutions for local housing challenges.
Through our Affordable Housing Centre, we provide a hub of resources to help facilitate the creation of new affordable housing or preserve existing affordable housing. Groups in the public, private and non-profit sectors rely on the Centre for affordable housing knowledge and expertise. We offer many interactive tools, as well as Canada’s largest inventory of housing information, research and market analyses.
We provide contributions and interest-free loans to qualifying projects through our Seed Funding program. This support helps with the up-front costs of a new affordable housing project or with preserving existing affordable housing.