Affordable housing is getting a lot of press lately. City Hall would like to enact initiatives to increase the amount of affordable housing in all areas of the city. Currently Ward 12 has the second-lowest density of Non-Market Affordable Housing in the City at 0.6%. Neighborhoods all over Ward 12 could look quite different over the next few years if plans to build this affordable housing come into effect. Before choosing our candidate for Ward 12, we must first ask ourselves: Is housing in Edmonton less affordable today than it was in the past?

 

For this study I have chosen to look at the following data points, spanning from 1986-2015:

 

-Median total pre-tax incomes for economic families of two persons or more

-Median home pricing in Edmonton

-Prime interest rates

-Monthly mortgage payment

-Monthly rental payment


Family Income



As shown above, pre-tax incomes for economic families of two persons or more have, for the most part, increased over the past thirty years. In fact, incomes have grown by 26.97% between 1986 and 2015.


Home Prices



Home prices have risen at a moderate pace over the last three decades. Since 1986, homes have increased in value by 58.64%. This is often cited in the City and throughout Canada as the end of home ownership for future generations, but is it true?


Interest Rates



Interest rates have fallen drastically in thirty years. In 1986, the prime rate was as high as 13%. By 2017 this rate had dropped to a low of 2.95% for a reduction of 77.31% over that time period. Interest rates matter when it comes to affordability. We will see their effect below.


Monthly Mortgage Payment



As shown in the graphs above, since 1986 we have seen a property value increase of 58.64% and an interest rate decrease of 77.31%. The net result is that mortgage payments in 1986 and 2015 are within $55 when adjusted for inflation; essentially the same cost.


Pre-Tax Income Devoted To Mortgage Payments



Let's drill down into the heart of this issue. Is owning a home actually less affordable today than in the past? The answer is a resounding NO. When we look at the cost of mortgage payments as a percentage of pre-tax monthly income, it is clear to see that affordability has changed little since 1996.  In fact, compared to 1986, this mortgage payment is now taking 25% LESS pre-tax income to support. We now know, without reservation, that homes are as affordable today as they have been for the past twenty years.


Monthly Rental Payment



When we look at rental rates from 1986-2015, we do see an increase of 30.64%. These numbers seem quite significant, but we must bear in mind that we have also experienced a median income increase of 26.97%. The graph below will illustrate the true changes to rental affordability.


Pre-Tax Income Devoted To Rental Payments



Now that we have all of the information, is renting a home more expensive today than it was thirty years ago?  Not really. The difference from 1986 is less than three-quarters of one percent. In addition, rental rates in the City of Edmonton are lower today than 2015 due to increased vacancy rates.


Conclusions


As we have seen in the graphs above, housing in Edmonton is still as affordable as it has ever been. City Hall is pursuing development of affordable housing, even though needs have not grown to warrant it. These initiatives will be funded with our tax dollars and most likely at the expense of other priorities. Ward 12 will be a focus for adding this affordable housing given our current density. Locations for building these projects include parks and future school properties. Many of our neighborhoods were not designed, nor intended to take on high density housing. Roads, utilities and emergency response will be put under great strain to make way for this "progress." I, Mike Russnak, strongly disagree with the City's plans. Do you agree? Contact details are above. Let's talk.