• Dragicevic, N. (2023) Building Together: Improving Collaboration to Deliver More Affordable Housing. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

Canada has a housing supply issue. Among the G7, Canada has the lowest number of housing units per capita, which contributes to elevated housing costs across the country. This shortage is most acutely felt by lower-income households and those in “core housing need”, who are underserved by current supply efforts – just one affordable unit is created for every five lost to redevelopment or rising rents.

In 2017 the federal government introduced the National Housing Strategy (NHS) and legislated the right to housing to increase the supply of affordable housing, reduce housing need, and decrease homelessness. But while each level of government deploys different tools and powers towards achieving these objectives, their collective efforts are too often misaligned.

Achieving the goals and obligations under the NHS will require long-term, coordinated commitment from all levels of government. Furthermore, plans to increase the housing supply will have to accommodate climate change — a challenge that intersects with affordable housing issues.

This paper examines where and how a lack of alignment and coordination among the three levels of government exacerbates the affordable housing shortage by creating inconsistencies, gaps, and barriers in approaches and, more importantly, results. It focuses on rental housing, for which demand has significantly expanded over the last decade, with the number of renter households growing twice as fast as owner households between 2011–2021. Furthermore, this paper identifies specific areas where better collaboration is required to generate more housing that is affordable to households with lower incomes. It also takes into account the opportunities to use housing policy to mitigate climate change, highlighting instances where suggested approaches can further carbon reduction goals.

Specifically, the report recommends that governments should:

  • apply a consistent, income-based, national definition of affordable housing;
  • increase and preserve affordable housing through holistic acquisition strategies;
  • maximize the impact of inclusionary zoning;
  • make it easier for non-profit developers to build; and
  • launch a trilateral mechanism to support strategic housing collaboration.

The French version of the report will be available on February 20th.

Contact the CSA Public Policy Centre

Orange line image

Are you interested in learning more about our Public Policy work? Email us at [email protected].

Join the Research Community

Orange line image

Join the CSA Community today so you can keep informed about research that is critical to standards development

When you join the CSA Community, you’ll gain access to the CSA Group Research Space. You can learn about current studies, get the latest information on upcoming programs, ask questions, andget involved in future research.