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Vital Signs: Affordable Housing

About this report

Hamilton’s affordable housing shortage is a pervasive issue that weighs heavily on our whole community, and for some is a crushing reality. From availability and need to social assistance rates and rent increases, this new Vital Signs report weaves together multiple data threads into “research you can read,” providing a comprehensive and unflinching picture of a crisis that continues to unfold. Clearly, the underlying issues are systemic and addressing them calls for collective action from all levels of government, the health care, education, private and philanthropic sectors. We hope, as individuals, you read this report and raise your voices to advocate for housing as a human right — for all Hamiltonians.

Research and analysis: Steve Pomeroy, Industry Professor, McMaster University, Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative (CHEC)

Additional contributions: Jeff Wingard, Project Manager

About Hamilton Vital Signs

Hamilton’s Vital Signs curates data from key areas of community life into “research you can read.” Its goal is to provide insights into trends that matter to all of us, and to inform individual and organizational decision-making.

Overview: what the findings show

  • Construction of new housing for ownership and purpose-built rental is increasing, with most of the new units at the more expensive end of the housing spectrum.
  • Average house prices have slowed their dramatic rise, but rents have continued to climb.
  • Existing affordable rental housing is eroding: Hamilton has lost 23 affordable private rental units for every one affordable unit it has built over the past decade.
  • For the first time in decades, the number of households experiencing core housing need 1 decreased in 2021 due to the pandemic emergency income benefits. Renters are more than five times as likely as owners to experience this need, largely because their incomes are lower.
  • The gap between the shelter components of social assistance programs and average rents has grown significantly. Units that are currently available to rent are three-to-four times the shelter maximum allowance.
  • The number of people experiencing homelessness has continued to rise. The top five barriers to finding housing have been identified as: high rent, low income, no social assistance, poor housing conditions and discrimination.

SCAFFOLD: Supporting affordable housing efforts

Hamilton Community Foundation has a long track record and a goal to do more. Visit for more information on our support to to this critical need.