Owning a home is a dream for most, but with currently 93,000 families receiving financial aid for rent and down payments, how long must Canadian’s risk their future for housing today? There are several benefits to being a homeowner that are difficult to measure accurately, such as mental health, dignity and general well-being, but what about the effects we can measure?
Having an affordable home leads to a happier life, and produces outcomes most take for granted. The ability to spend more income on nutritious food, more time spent with friends and loved ones and more access to activities to promote healthy living are all available when you’re not worried about making your rent or paying a mortgage. With most of the debt tied into private homes, it’s hard for an economy to grow when more money is spent to keep yourself sheltered, compared to taking on debts to expand a business that will better benefit others, as an example. Average Canadian households have record levels of debts, and with almost 80 per cent of it going into rent or mortgage payments, we can see that the need for affordable housing could have many positive impacts on a federal and individual level.
In late 2016, the Canadian government launched an effort to provide affordable housing to Canadians, ranging from homelessness to the middle class. The National Housing Strategy (NHS) is a 10-year, $40 billion plan to help build up Canada’s housing sector, and will benefit the country and citizens in several different ways. Employment opportunities, strengthened partnerships with non-for-profits (an example being Habitat for Humanity), and prioritizing housing for those in need are just a few examples of what this strategy aims to accomplish.
A big impact of affordable homes is what the future holds for those living in them. Housing stability can provide a stable environment for children, which contributes to improved educational outcomes and an increase in community participation. When a child is constantly moving homes while in elementary school, it can negatively affect their performance in school, and can be a cause of long-lasting achievement gaps in their education. Researchers have found that a change in schools decreases a child’s levels in math and reading, equal to a 3-4 month learning disadvantage.
Developing affordable housing actually brings growth to the communities they’re located in and don’t devalue existing properties in any way. Provincial land is currently being used to develop 2,000 new housing units and will need workers to help construct them. Not only does building homes create jobs, through partnerships with not-for-profits in the community, it will help create roots for the residents and make them connected to their communities. It also provides an increase in local purchasing power and creation in jobs.
Being the owner of a home brings many financial benefits to owners, for their community and themselves. With the help of organizations like Habitat for Humanity, you can begin to see the effects that homeownership have on the families. Habitat for Humanity builds new homes for a relatively low cost, and on average generates $175,000 of benefits to society through each family partnered with the program. 70 per cent of those partnered with Habitat previously lived in private rental housing, where they were unable to claim any deduction on their taxes and saw their savings barely increase. Living in and owning a home usually brings stable pricing month to month, making it easier to calculate costs and have more money in the owner’s savings.
With the help of not-for-profits and government legislation, we should be able to combat the housing crisis and its effects in our lifetime, and the steps that are being taken are promising. Through our work at Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, we strive to provide affordable housing to those who are in need, so the benefits of our work can be felt both by individuals and entire communities.