What is Affordable Housing?

Recently, ‘affordable housing’ has been a common topic in the news and on election platforms, but each person and organization seems to interpret its meaning differently. So, how should we define ‘affordable housing’?

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, housing is considered affordable when a household spends less than 30 per cent of its gross income (before tax) on their shelter. There is some confusion around this because some people think ‘affordable housing’ only refers to rental housing that is subsidized by the government. But in fact, the above definition of ‘affordable housing’ is applicable to both owned or rented housing.

The truth is, ‘affordable housing’ is a very broad term that can include housing provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors. It also includes all forms of housing: rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing. The “Affordable Housing Continuum” below gives an indication of how broadly this term is applied.


Emergency Shelter Transitional Housing Supportive Housing Subsidized Housing Market Rental Market Ownership