Canada is experiencing a housing crisis. The cost of housing has exploded while incomes have struggled to keep up.
Calgary is experiencing rapid population growth: over 42,000 people moved to Calgary last year, and it’s predicted that 110,000 will be moving to Calgary within the next four years. That means Calgary needs to welcome 75 people per day. Demand for housing has increased housing costs and driven rents up 22% over the course of a year, leading to the lowest vacancy rate in a decade. More people bidding on the existing housing stock leads to price increases. As a result of Alberta’s residential tenancy laws, many renters are paying more in housing costs than homeowners. Calgary has passed the 5:1 price-to-income ratio, meaning that by OECD measures, our city’s housing market can now be considered severely unaffordable.
More than 81,000 Calgary households — nearly one in five households — spend more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs.
Within Canada, Alberta has a deficit of housing units compared to other provinces, and would need 138,000 more housing units built to meet the national average of homes per person. Reaching this national average would still fall well short of the number of homes needed to reach the G7 average – which would itself require an additional 1.8 million homes nationwide.
The costs of home ownership are escalating, and more people are renting. Fifty-four per cent of non-homeowners in Alberta have given up on owning a home, joining a growing number of renters nationwide.
This affects everyone. Housing prices affect where you live, what jobs you apply for, how close to your job you are, and how long your commute is. It affects your decision to buy a car or take transit. It determines how much of your income is absorbed by shelter costs, rather than purchasing goods and services in support of your local economy. It determines which neighbourhoods you can live in.
Relative to other cities in Canada, Calgary’s housing affordability has been a competitive advantage – but we risk seeing this advantage quickly eroding very quickly without acting now. Some major Canadian cities have seen the crush of housing unaffordability contribute to catastrophic results. Calgary has an opportunity to proactively take measures to make our city an affordable place to live.
Last year, Council approved the launch of the Housing and Affordability Task Force. The Task Force is returning to Council today with six recommendations and 33 actions that it has determined will help address Calgary’s housing and affordability challenges.
Calgarians have repeatedly expressed through the Citizen Satisfaction Survey that housing is a top priority.
Council needs to direct Administration to begin a careful process of implementing these recommendations.