Defining Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is an important part of every community in B.C., but it can mean something different for everyone. A common understanding of the factors that influence housing affordability can help local governments decide which tools to use in their community.

Defining Affordable Housing

Finding a suitable home for a reasonable price can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s often more difficult for single-income households, seniors and Aboriginal people living off-reserve.

Many organizations, programs and even mortgage lenders consider housing affordable if it costs no more than 30% of household income before taxes. This measure is a useful tool that can be used when choosing a place to live, but housing affordability is often based on a combination of factors, and every situation is different.

Here are some examples:

  • The type, age and condition of a home influences costs like heating, electricity, water, sewage, insurance, maintenance, property taxes, and strata fees.
  • The location of a home determines transportation expenses like riding the bus or driving a car.
  • A person's financial status and stage of life controls how much is affordable for them. Everyone’s monthly budget is different and personal preferences, priorities, and family needs much be considered.

Under the Local Government Act and Community Charter, local governments can implement policies that:

  • Support the creation of social housing and affordable market housing
  • Target affordable rental housing or affordable ownership options