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Photo: Bill Longstaff/Flickr

Homeownership in Calgary may soon not be desirable or even possible for many, as the gap between home prices and income continues to widen, says a report recently published by the City of Calgary in collaboration with the Community Housing Affordability Collective (CHAC).

The report, which is the first of its kind for the city, provides a comprehensive look at Calgary’s housing supply, with an analysis of housing supply trends, gaps and the current condition of affordable housing in the city.

Before data was collected for this report, there was little information on Calgary’s non-market housing supply. The term non-market refers to affordable housing in the city.

In late 2015, CHAC developed a non-market housing survey to obtain an accurate depiction of the market, and the findings are presented in the report, published earlier this month.

The city, along with other affordable housing providers, can use the report to devise a plan to address housing supply in Calgary, says Sarah Woodgate, Director of Calgary Housing.

The findings reinforce the objectives in our Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy: Foundations for Home, and will guide us as we move forward with our strategy to make affordable housing more readily available to Calgarians,” says Woodgate.

Ninety-five per cent of Calgary’s housing supply belongs to the private market, with 27 per cent consisting of rentals and 68 per cent homeownership, making for an expensive housing supply, according to the report.

Seventy-three per cent of homes within the homeownership segment are single-family dwellings.

With the vast majority of Calgary homes in the private market, only about half of the city’s households have an income high enough to buy a home, says the report.

The report also notes about 21 per cent of Calgary households don’t make enough to afford the average rental apartment.

Between 1998 and 2008, wages in Calgary have increased only 22 per cent while, during the same time period, house prices have soared 157 per cent. With the recommended guideline that households should spend 32 per cent of their income on homeownership, the report says more than 60,000 homeowners in Calgary are spending over their means.

For Calgarians looking to rent, they don’t have as many options as they would compared to other major Canadian cities, as Calgary has the lowest proportion of rental households, at around 28 per cent.

At the end of 2015, there were 123,706 market rental units in Calgary, according to the report.

The gap between affordability and availability in Calgary is clear, as only 3.6 per cent of the city belongs to non-market housing, well below the national average of 6 per cent.

There’s also a disparity in the location of affordable housing units, as more than half of Calgary’s non-market housing units only belong in 16 communities.

From 2011 to 2015, the report states an average net gain of 308 non-market housing units per year was observed.

This growth is not high enough to support affordable housing demand, which is estimated at about 2,000 to 2,500 units per year to accommodate housing supply, says the report.

Almost 80 per cent of non-market developments are over 25 years old, which the report argues also adds to the urgency for more affordable housing units.

Besides increasing affordable housing supply in the city, the report recommends further discussion about enhancing rent supplements and affordable homeownership, which currently make up a small component of the housing system.

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