Housing Statistics in Canada
Housing experiences in Canada: Black people in 2018

Release date: November 22, 2021

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The Housing Experiences in Canada series of fact sheets highlights the diversity of housing situations experienced by different groups of people living across Canada.

Figure 1

Description for Figure 1

Highlights from the 2016 Census: Black population

  • Percent of the population: 3.5%
  • Average age: 31 years
  • Median household incomeNote 1: $56,702
  • Unemployment rate: 12.5%
  • Percent in rural areas: 2.5%
  • Percent who are immigrants: 52.0%

This fact sheet focuses on the Black population living in private dwellings. Statistics below are derived from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS). For the purposes of this analysis, Black people were identified based on survey responses of the reference person for the household.Note 1 The reference person provides information on the characteristics of each household member. More fact sheets are available on the Housing Experiences in Canada issue page.

The National Housing Strategy Act (2019) declared that “the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right affirmed in international law.” Adequate housing is understood in international law as housing that provides secure tenure; is affordable; is habitable; provides access to basic infrastructure; is located close to employment, services and amenities; is accessible for people of all abilities; and is culturally appropriate.

This fact sheet focuses on the experience of Black people living in private dwellings, using the following indicators collected and produced by Statistics Canada. These are: tenure status of household, shelter costs, housing affordability, housing suitability, condition of dwelling, core housing need, dwelling satisfaction, neighbourhood satisfaction, and household living arrangements.

While these indicators together do not perfectly measure adequate housing as defined in international law, they are nevertheless useful proxies for understanding the housing experiences of people living in Canada.

Tenure status of household

The tenure status of a household refers to whether the household owns or rents its private dwelling.Note 2 Homeownership is an important aspect of Canadian society and can affect outcomes for many housing indicators. For this reason, owner and renter households are often considered separately in housing analyses. In many cases, researchers further examine whether households in owner-occupied dwellings have mortgages on their dwellings, and whether renter households pay subsidized rent.

According to the 2018 CHS, 48% of 1,333,000 Black people lived in a private dwelling owned by a member of their household in 2018. This was smaller than the share of the total population (73%) living in owner-occupied dwellings.

The 637,100 Black people who owned their homes or lived with someone who owned their homes can be further divided into the 546,700 (41%) who lived in a dwelling with a mortgage and the remaining 90,500 (7%) who lived in a dwelling without a mortgage. Black people were less likely to live in an owner-occupied dwelling without a mortgage than the total population (25%).

The remaining 695,900 (52%) Black people who lived in rented dwellings can be further divided into the 182,600 (14%) living in subsidized housing and the 513,000 (38%) not living in subsidized housing. Black people were more likely to live in rented dwellings than the total population (27%) and were also more likely to live in subsidized rental housing (14%, compared with 3% for the total population).


Table 1
Tenure status of private households for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Tenure status of private households for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, tenure status 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
Owner 637,100 48Note * 26,694,500 73
With a mortgage 546,700 41Note * 17,696,300 49
Without a mortgage 90,500 7Note * 8,998,100 25
Renter 695,900 52Note * 9,749,700 27
Subsidized housing 182,600 14Note * 1,160,700 3
Not subsidized housing 513,000 38Note * 8,570,300 24

Shelter costs

Shelter costs refer to the monthly dwelling-related expenses paid by households, including mortgage or rent. For owner-occupied dwellings, shelter costs include, where applicable, mortgage payments, property taxes and condominium fees, along with the costs of electricity, heat, water and other municipal services. For renter households, shelter costs include, where applicable, rent and the costs of electricity, heat, water and other municipal services.

In Canada, the median shelter cost paid by Black households was $1,220 in 2018.Note 3 This was higher than the median shelter cost of $1,050 for all private households.

Black households in owner-occupied dwellings had higher median shelter costs than all households, but the costs for renter households were comparable. The median shelter cost paid by Black households in owner-occupied dwellings was $1,760, compared to $1,140 for all households.

The median shelter cost paid by households in owner-occupied dwellings are typically larger when there is a mortgage on the dwelling, because a mortgage can represent a large portion of monthly shelter costs. Black households with a mortgage on their dwelling ($2,000) paid more per month in median shelter costs than Black households without a mortgage ($630).Note 4 Black households with a mortgage also had higher shelter costs than all households in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage ($1,770).

The median shelter cost paid by renter households usually depends on the presence of a rent subsidy.Note 5 Black households in rented dwellings with a subsidy ($540) paid less than their counterparts without a rental subsidy ($1,020). The differences between these amounts and those for all households in dwellings of the same renter subsidy categories were not statistically significant.Note 6


Table 2
Monthly shelter costs for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Monthly shelter costs for the population in private dwellings Black households and All households, calculated using median (dollars) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black households All households
median (dollars)
Total, tenure status 1,220Note * 1,050
Owner 1,760Note * Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  1,140
With a mortgage 2,000Note * Table 2 Note  1,770
Without a mortgage 630Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  540
Renter 970Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  960
Subsidized housing 540Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  530
Not subsidized housing 1,020Table 2 Note  1,010

Housing affordability

Housing affordability is derived using the shelter-cost-to-income ratio, which refers to the proportion of average total income households spend on shelter costs. A household is said to have affordable housing if it spends less than 30% of its total income on shelter costs.Note 7

According to the 2018 CHS, 258,400 Black people (19%) lived in households that spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter. This was comparable to the 18% of the total population who lived in private households which spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter.

Black people in owner-occupied dwellings (23%) were more likely to be in unaffordable housing than the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (15%). The opposite was true for Black people in rented dwellings (17%), where the rate of unaffordable housing was lower than the total population (26%).

The rate of unaffordable housing was also lower for Black people in renter households both with a subsidy (12%, compared with 23% for the total population) and without a subsidy (18%, compared with 26% for the total population).Note 8 Note 9


Table 3
Unaffordable housing for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Unaffordable housing for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, shelter-cost-to-income ratioTable 3 Note 1 1,325,700 100 35,669,100 100
Spending more than 30% of income on shelter costs 258,400 19 6,400,200 18
Owner 143,300 23Note * 3,895,800 15
With a mortgage Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 3,568,600 21
Without a mortgage Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 327,200 4
Renter 115,200 17Note * 2,504,400 26
Subsidized housing 22,100 12Note * 269,500 23
Not subsidized housing 93,000 18Note * 2,232,300 26

Housing suitability

Housing suitability refers to whether a private household is living in suitable accommodations according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS), that is, whether the dwelling has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household. The indicator assesses the required number of bedrooms for a household based on the age and sex of household members, and the relationships between them.

According to the 2018 CHS, 382,100 Black people (29%) were in unsuitable housing, meaning that there were not enough bedrooms in the dwelling to meet the needs of their household, according to the NOS. This was more than three times higher than the proportion of the total population (9%) living in unsuitable housing.

Black people in owner-occupied dwellings (27%) were more than four times as likely to be in unsuitable housing as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (6%). This difference was also reflected in rented dwellings, where the share of Black people living in rented dwellings (30%) that were unsuitable was higher than the share for the total population (19%).

When owner-occupied dwellings are differentiated by the presence of a mortgage, Black people living in dwellings with a mortgage (27%) experienced unsuitable housing at a higher rate than the total population in dwellings with a mortgage (7%).

Black people in renter households with and without a subsidy experienced higher rates of unsuitable housing than the total population. There was a 14 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rate experienced by Black people (34%) and the total population (20%) living in subsidized housing.Note 10 There was also an 11 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rate experienced by Black people (29%) and the total population (18%) living in non-subsidized housing.Note 11


Table 4
Housing suitability for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing suitability for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, housing suitability 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
Not suitable 382,100 29Note * 3,408,400 9
Owner 172,300 27Note * 1,599,500 6
With a mortgage 146,900 27Note * 1,307,600 7
Without a mortgage 25,400 28 291,900 3
Renter 209,800 30Note * 1,808,900 19
Subsidized housing 63,000 34Note * 227,000 20
Not subsidized housing 146,800 29Note * 1,578,200 18

Condition of dwelling

Data on condition of dwelling are used to provide some insight into whether housing is habitable. Dwellings are classified into three groups by condition: needing regular maintenance only, needing minor repairs and needing major repairs. Dwellings in need of major repairs are considered to be inadequate housing. Examples of dwellings in need of major repairs include homes with defective plumbing or electrical wiring, and housing needing structural repairs to walls, floors, or ceilings.

In 2018, according to the CHS, 10% of all Black people lived in private dwellings that were in need of major repairs. This is higher than the 7% of the total population that reported living in dwellings in need of major repairs.

Differences in proportion of Black people living in dwellings in need of major repairs with the total population by tenure status were not statistically significant.


Table 5
Condition of dwelling for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Condition of dwelling for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, dwelling condition 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
Dwelling in need of major repairs 130,400 10Note * 2,556,400 7
Owner 50,000 8 1,657,400 6
With a mortgage 43,100 8 1,162,500 7
Without a mortgage 6,900 8 494,900 5
Renter 80,400 12 899,000 9
Subsidized housing 19,600 11 134,000 12
Not subsidized housing 60,700 12 761,800 9

Core housing need

Core housing need touches on several elements of the right to adequate housing. It considers whether the affordability, suitability, and condition of dwelling needs of the household are being met and if not, whether affordable rental housing is available that meets all these needs. A household is said to be in core housing need if their dwelling falls below at least one of the affordability, suitability, or condition of dwelling standards, and would have to spend 30% or more of their total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three housing standards).

According to the 2018 CHS, 15% of Black people were living in households in core housing need. This is higher than the 9% of the total population in core housing need.

Black people in owner-occupied dwellings (11%) were less likely to be in core housing need than Black people in rented dwellings (19%). This was also true for the total population where individuals in owner-occupied dwellings (5%) were less likely to be in core housing need than those in rented dwellings (19%).

Differences in the rates of core housing need for Black people by presence of a mortgage for those in owner-occupied households, and by presence of a housing subsidy for those in renter households, were not statistically significant.


Table 6
Core housing need status for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Core housing need status for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, core housing needTable 6 Note 1 1,306,300 100 35,128,000 100
In core housing need 197,600 15Note * 3,151,900 9
Owner 66,200 11Table 6 Note  1,358,700 5
With a mortgage 58,300 11 982,800 6
Without a mortgage 7,900 9 375,900 4
Renter 131,400 19Table 6 Note  1,793,200 19
Subsidized housing 48,700 27 342,000 30
Not subsidized housing 82,600 17 1,447,300 18

Housing experiences of Black men and women

In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using GBA+ to advance gender equality in Canada, as part of the ratification of the United Nations’ Beijing Platform for Action.

Gender equality is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada. Gender equality means that diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people are able to participate fully in all spheres of Canadian life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society.

GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men, and gender diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ is not just about differences between people on the basis of gender. We all have multiple characteristics that intersect and contribute to who we are. GBA+ considers many other identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, immigrant status, religion, age, presence of a mental or physical disability, and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we experience government policies and initiatives.

The data presented here highlight differences in housing experiences for Black men and women. Compared to black men, black women were just as likely to live in owner-occupied dwellings, unaffordable housing, unsuitable housing, a dwelling requiring major repairs, and be in core housing need.


Table 7
Housing indicators for Black men and women, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing indicators for Black men and women Black men and Black women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black men Black women
percent
In an owner-occupied dwelling 48 48
In household spending 30% or more of income on shelter costs 19 20
In unsuitable housing 30 28
In dwelling requiring major repairs 10 10
In core housing need 14 16

More information on GBA+ can be found at the Government of Canada’s Status of Women web page.

More information on the housing experiences of other subpopulations broken down by age and gender groups, immigrant status, population groups designated as visible minorities, Indigenous populations and other groups can be found in the additional fact sheets on the Housing Experiences in Canada issue page. Additional data products that focus more on an intersectional GBA+ analysis of housing experiences will also be released through the Housing Experiences in Canada issue page as they become available.

Dwelling satisfaction

According to the 2018 CHS, approximately 69% of Black people were in households where the reference person said that they were satisfied with their dwelling. This is lower than the proportion of the total population satisfied with their dwelling (82%).

By tenure, 83% of Black people in owner-occupied dwellings lived in households where the reference person was satisfied with the dwelling. This is comparable with the 87% of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings where the reference person was satisfied. For Black people in rented dwellings (57%), the rate of dwelling satisfaction was lower than the total population in rented dwellings (69%).

Differences in rates of dwelling satisfaction for Black people, by presence of a mortgage for those in owner-occupied dwellings, were not statistically significant.

For Black people in rented dwellings, the rate of dwelling satisfaction was lower than the total population for households without a subsidy. The dwelling satisfaction rate for Black people in rented dwellings without a subsidy was 57%, compared with 69% for the total population.


Table 8
Overall dwelling satisfaction for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Overall dwelling satisfaction for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, overall dwelling satisfaction 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
Satisfied (or very satisfied) with dwelling overall 921,300 69Note * 29,977,600 82
Owner 526,100 83Table 8 Note  Table 8 Note  23,295,900 87
With a mortgage 460,800 84 15,267,800 86
Without a mortgage 65,300 72 8,028,100 89
Renter 395,200 57Note * Table 8 Note  Table 8 Note  6,681,700 69
Subsidized housing 102,800 56 775,800 67
Not subsidized housing 292,300 57Note * 5,892,600 69

Neighbourhood satisfaction

At the time of the 2018 CHS, 81% of Black people lived in households where the reference person indicated that they were satisfied with their neighbourhood. This is lower than the proportion of the total population satisfied with their neighbourhood (86%).

By tenure, 88% of Black people lived in owner-occupied dwellings where the reference person was satisfied with their neighbourhood. This is higher than the 75% of Black people in rented dwellings where the reference person was satisfied. There were, however, no statistically significant differences in these rates between Black people and the total population.

Differences in rates of neighbourhood satisfaction for Black people by presence of a mortgage for those in owner-occupied households, or by presence of a housing subsidy for those in renter households, were not statistically significant.


Table 9
Overall neighbourhood satisfaction for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Overall neighbourhood satisfaction for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, overall neighbourhood satisfaction 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
Satisfied (or very satisfied) with neighbourhood overall 1,083,800 81Note * 31,255,800 86
Owner 562,600 88Table 9 Note  Table 9 Note  23,504,200 88
With a mortgage 485,500 89 15,494,800 88
Without a mortgage 77,100 85 8,009,400 89
Renter 521,200 75Table 9 Note  7,751,600 80
Subsidized housing 127,800 70 840,500 72
Not subsidized housing 393,100 77 6,897,100 80

Household living arrangements

Household living arrangements refer to whether a person lives with another person or people, and, if so, whether they are related to that person or those people. Households can be further differentiated based on whether they are census family households or non-census-family households. Census family households contain at least one census family.Note 12 Non-census-family households are either one person living alone or a group of two or more people who live together but do not constitute a census family (for example, roommates).

According to the 2018 CHS, 83% of Black people lived as part of a one-census-family household. Black people in one-census-family households were more likely to live in a couple family with children (53%) than without (8%). The same was true for the total population, where 46% of individuals lived in a couple family with children and 24% lived in a couple family without children. It was also more than twice as likely for Black people (22%) to live in a one parent family household compared to the total population (10%).

Living in a non-census-family household was less common for Black people (13%) than the total population (16%). This is because a small proportion of Black people lived alone (7%). By comparison, 12% of the total population in private households in Canada lived alone.


Table 10
Household living arrangements for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Household living arrangements for the population in private dwellings Black population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Black population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, household type 1,333,000 100 36,444,100 100
One-census-family householdTable 10 Note 1 1,104,900 83 28,959,300 79
Couple family without children 100,600 8Note * 8,583,600 24
Couple family with children 710,800 53Note * 16,782,900 46
One parent family 293,500 22Note * 3,592,800 10
Multiple-census-family householdTable 10 Note 1 58,600 4 1,799,100 5
Non-census-family household 169,500 13Note * 5,685,800 16
One-person household 96,600 7Note * 4,243,300 12
Two- or more person household 72,900 5 1,442,400 4

Interpreting the results

The Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) is a representative sample survey drawn from a frame of private dwellings across Canada. Since the survey sample is drawn from private households, individuals living in the following forms of housing are not included in the data:

  • people living on reserves and in other Indigenous settlements
  • official representatives of foreign countries living in Canada, and their families
  • members of religious and other communal colonies
  • members of the Canadian Armed Forces living on military bases
  • people living in seniors’ residences
  • people living full time in institutions (e.g., inmates of penal institutions, and chronic care patients living in hospitals and nursing homes)
  • people living in other types of collective dwellings (e.g., shelters, campgrounds and hotels).

The survey results are an outcome of the sampling procedure that estimates a true value with an acceptable level of uncertainty. Therefore, it is not recommended to compare any two numbers published above unless the comparison is made in the text. This fact sheet features three types of comparisons:

  1. comparisons of estimates between the focus population group and the total population (for example, the percentage of Black people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of the total population in rented dwellings in core housing need)
  2. comparisons of estimates between a category and the category total within the focus population group (for example, the percentage of Black people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of all Black people in core housing need)
  3. comparisons of estimates between categories within the focus population group (for example, the percentage of Black people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of Black people in owner-occupied dwellings in core housing need).

Each of these three comparisons provides a different insight to understand the housing experiences of the focus population group. A statistical test is conducted to see whether the two estimates are different from one another at the 95% confidence level—often stated as 19 times in 20. The test results are presented for percentage statistics in the tables on relative prevalence or median shelter costs only; test results are omitted for statistics on the associated number of people.

When other comparisons are made between sample results presented in the fact sheets or data tables, it is important to remember that it cannot be concluded with a degree of certainty that the observed difference is not attributable to variation from the sampling procedure.

About the data

The estimates presented in this fact sheet are from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS). Additional socioeconomic and demographic highlights are from the 2016 Census of Population. For detailed information on the CHS or any of the indicators in this fact sheet, please refer to the following:


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