Survey definitions and methodology of the survey
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 toward improved housing outcomes.
The first survey was a census. The target population was all structures in all provinces and territories with at least 1 rental unit subsidized by a public entity. This could be a public entity like the federal government, provincial government or 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 various levels of government, non-profit organizations, cooperatives and private companies.
We used 4 approaches, including online in the first cycle of the survey to maximize response rates:
- CMHC web portal
- telephone interviews
- site visits
The main methodology used for data collection remained phone calls to pre-identified contacts, usually property managers or owners. We encouraged respondents to provide CMHC’s survey team with administrative data through rent rolls or preformatted Microsoft® Excel® templates.
In most provinces, the survey is a census of all social and affordable rental housing structures. Québec is the exception, where only cooperatives, non-profits and some para-municipal administered buildings were included (structures managed by the Société d’habitation du Québec were excluded). We will continue to expand the coverage of this survey in future cycles.
Owner or ownership type: This refers to the organization type which has title ownership to the structure and related property. Ownership type could be various levels of government, non-profit or charitable entities, private organizations or individuals and housing co-operatives.
Management type or management body: This refers to the organization type which is responsible for day-to-day property and financial management functions of the structure. Management type could be various levels of government, non-profit or charitable entities, private organizations or individuals and housing co-operatives.
Rent: The rent refers to the 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 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
- as a proportion of the market rent in each 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 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.
Accessibility features: Accessible design is the development of products and environments that meet a range of the population’s needs. Accessible design products address the needs of people with mobility or cognitive disabilities as well as the general population. Respondents are asked to indicate all accessibility features of their building’s units and common areas.
Building condition and repair type: We ask respondents when the last time a Building Condition Assessment (BCA) or a Facility Condition Index (FCI) was undertaken by a certified professional. Respondents are then asked, based on their most recent estimate, what the overall condition of their building is. We also ask what major repairs and/or replacements are needed in the next 5 years.
Data reliability measures
CMHC doesn’t publish a statistic if its reliability is too low or if the publication of a statistic would violate confidentiality rules. The ability to publish an estimate is determined by its statistical reliability. As indicated earlier, CMHC currently uses the coefficient of variation (CV).
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 expressed as a percentage
For example, let the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in each census metropolitan area 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 the 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 in the universe for this category