Viewpoints Research partnered with the Broadbent Institute and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung to conduct a survey of Canadians in cities with the most severe housing affordability challenges. We wanted to bring something new to the national conversation about housing affordability – so we dove into people’s housing dreams and realities, and what solutions they think will benefit them.

People are focused on housing affordability, and it’s impacting the stability of their housing situations.

Many of people’s housing concerns focus on finances. When asked to consider what’s missing from their current housing situation that they want the most, most people said affordability (32%). When they think about issues that might cause them to lose their housing, most are concerned about rent or mortgage increases outside their budget (34%) or a loss of job or income (33%). 37% shared that if the cost of their monthly rent or mortgage payments increased by 10% in the next year, they wouldn’t be able to afford their housing. Nearly half of renters (49%) said they couldn’t afford this increase.

More than half (52%) of respondents have felt at risk of losing their home or becoming housing insecure. This was especially common among those 18-29 years old (61%), those who rent (77%), and those whose annual household income is less than $100,000 (69%).

There’s a large disparity between their housing dreams and realities – especially for young people and renters.

That said, many still hold on to the dream of homeownership. 80% of renters hope to own their home at some point, but most think it’s unlikely (23%) or very unlikely (56%) that they could purchase a home in the next five years.

People see financial actors and the federal government as responsible for the high cost of housing. They want to see the federal government address it.

We found overwhelming sentiment that it’s time to get government back into building non-market housing, either alone or in combination with more market housing. 41% want the federal government to get back into building more non-market housing, while 39% are looking for a “mixed” approach to let developers build more market housing while the government builds more non-market housing.

Most think that foreign investors (48%) are the most responsible for housing becoming more expensive, followed by the federal government (39%), real-estate developers (32%) and corporate landlords (31%). When asked which level of government is most responsible for addressing housing unaffordability, most pointed again to the federal government (44%), followed by the provincial government (35%). Only 11% felt that the municipal government is most responsible.

That said, the differences in the way housing unaffordability is experienced between younger and older generations, low and high-income households, and between renters and homeowners carry over into attitudes about how to solve housing unaffordability. The younger generation especially wants to see the federal government get back into non-market housing (53%), and the same is true for those with household incomes less than $100,000 (52%), and renters (87%).

We asked respondents which policy proposals would help them personally address housing affordability challenges. Those that were most often selected as helpful are:

  • Instructing the bank of Canada to consider lowering interest rates (68%)
  • Giving people the option of more easily moving to lenders when they re-negotiate their mortgages (63%)
  • Offering incentives to developers to build affordable, non-market rental housing (61%)
  • Use government-owned land to develop affordable rental units with rent caps (57%)

Young people, low-income households and renters strongly support measures that get government back into housing and policies that help decommodify rental housing. Among renters, policies such as rent control (92%), using government-owned land to develop affordable rental units with rent caps (87%), offering incentives to build affordable, non-market rental housing (85%), rent-geared-to-income (76%), and vacancy control (70%) are well supported.

Sharing findings

The Broadbent Institute and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung pushed these results into the public realm through a report they co-developed, shared through social media and on stage during the 2024 Progress Summit. They’ve elevated the national discourse on housing and pushed for meaningful change to address Canadians’ housing needs.

Viewpoints was honoured to be a partner on this project. You can see the tables of results and more details about the methodology here.