Almost 70 per cent of Saanich resident own their homes. The number of renters, however, has gone up. Derek Ford / District of Saanich

Saanich sees a shrinking share of homeowners

Census shows number of renters climb to 30 per cent in Saanich

The share of Saanich residents who own their homes is dropping, as the share of renters has gone up.

That is one of findings that emerged from the 2016 census data that Statistics Canada released last week.

Saanich recorded 46,655 private households in 2016, with 32,635 claiming homeownership, a share of just under 70 per cent. Five years ago, the share was 73 per cent. The share of renters has correspondingly risen to 30 per cent in 2016 from 27 per cent in 2011. Saanich, however, stands apart from the rest of Canada, whose national homeownership rate was 67.8 per cent.

Looking at the regional picture, Saanich’s homeownership rate of 70 per cent exceeds the regional rate of 63 per cent for 2016.

As for the cost of housing in Saanich, a mixed, but familiar picture emerges. Just under 19 per cent of households, who own their own homes spend more than 30 per cent of their incomes on shelter. This figure is down from 2011, when just under 22 per cent of homeowners spend more than 30 per cent of their incomes on shelter. But the number of tenants who spend more than 30 per of their incomes on housing has remained relatively steady – 44.9 in 2016 compared to 44.8 in 2011.

Renters paid an average of $1,180 per month, up from $1,025 per month in 2011. Home-owners meanwhile paid $1,418 per month for housing in 2016, up from $1,247 per month in 2011.

These figures suggest that home-owners are finding it less difficult to pay for housing, while renters continue to struggle, in pointing towards a growing income polarization. But other figures paint a more positive picture. The number of Saanich tenants who live in subsidized housing has dropped to 13.4 per cent from 15.8 per cent.

Saanich’s trend line of declining homeownership appears consistent with larger trends. According to Statistics Canada, the national homeownership rate has remained relatively stagnant over the last decade. In 2006, it was 68.4 per cent, in 2011, 69.0 per cent. However, between 1991 to 2006, it had risen from 62.6 per cent to 68.4 per cent.

It is likely that home-ownership rates will drop in the medium-future. For many years, baby boomers (because of their demographic weight) were driving changes in home-ownership rates across Canada, ” says Statistics Canada in a release. “But this is different for younger generations. Younger adults aged 20 to 34 – those often referred to as the millennial generation – are slower to get into the housing market than was the case for the baby boomers at that age.”

In fact, many millennials are still living at home. “For instance, one-third of young adults aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents in 2016, a share that has been increasing since 2001,” it says.

Statistics Canada also finds a generational difference in the types of dwellings in which young adults live. In 1981, 44.4 per cent of baby boomers lived in a single-detached home compared with a rate of 35 per cent for millennials in 2016. Young adults in 2016 were also more likely to live in apartments than their 1981 counterparts.

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