Housing is one of the biggest financial burdens for people on welfare and for low-income
people in general. Housing that is decent, affordable and suitable to a family's needs is not
always easy to find. Many families on fixed incomes have to scrimp on other essentials to
be able to have better housing. The housing arrangements of people on welfare depend in large part on provincial welfare
and housing policies and to a lesser extent on traditional housing patterns that vary from
one part of the country to another. Home ownership has long been the preference in Atlantic
Canada, and the percentage of welfare cases living in their own homes is higher there than
in other parts of the country.




   Most of the unattached individuals and families on welfare are renters rather than
homeowners. As Graph O shows, 68 percent of all welfare cases in March 1997 were in rental
housing and seven percent were in subsidized housing, which could be considered a form of
rental housing. The graph covers welfare cases in all provinces except for New Brunswick and
municipal welfare cases in Nova Scotia and Manitoba and represents 95 percent of the estimated
national caseload. The housing arrangements of welfare cases differ noticeably by family type, as shown
in Graph P on the next page. The two pies in the top half of the page represent couples with
children and single-parent families. The categories room and board and living with relatives
were so small that they were included with the "other and unknown" category for the two types
of families with children. In both types of families, rental housing is the most common
arrangement by far. A small portion of families on welfare own their own homes or live in
subsidized housing. Presumably, many of the homeowners were living in their own homes at
the time they went on welfare and it was better for them to stay put and keep paying
their mortgages rather than to move. The two pies in the bottom half of the graph show housing arrangements for unattached
persons and couples without children. Among unattached persons, the two slices of the pie for
room and board and living with relatives are fairly small, but they represented most of
the welfare recipients who were boarding or living with relatives in March 1997. Among couples
without children, 23 percent were homeowners, 69 percent were renters and the rest were
in other arrangements.











   The types of housing for welfare cases vary enormously with the reasons for assistance,
as shown in Table 13. Job-related welfare cases accounted for 50 percent of the renters in the
table and 50 percent of the cases living with relatives. Both figures are noticeably higher than
the 45 percent of job-related cases overall shown in the bottom row of the table. Conversely,
job-related welfare cases made up only 39 percent of the cases in their own homes, 21 percent
of the cases in subsidized housing and two percent of the cases in residential centres.





Single Parent

Other Reasons

All Reasons

Own Home 38,059-39% 33,653-35% 11,903-12% 13,458-14% 97,074-100%
Rent 478,474-50% 213,138-22% 144,208-15% 130,033-13% 965,853-100%
Subsidized Housing 20,001-21% 34,684-36% 31,667-33% 10,940-11% 97,291-100%
Room & Board 52,437-41% 56,781-45% 2,921-2% 14,957-12% 127,096-100%
Living with Relatives 39,711-50% 28,036-35% 2,393-3% 10,045-13% 80,185-100%
Residential centres 251-2% 12,287-90% 16-0% 1,132-8% 13,686-100%
Other Housing Unknown 7,691-22% 9,310-26% 817-2% 17,599-50% 35,416-100%
Totals 636,626-45% 387,889-27% 193,923-14% 198,164-14% 1,416,602-100%


   There are striking differences in the column for welfare cases with disability as the
reason for assistance. Disability was cited as the reason for assistance in 27 percent of all
welfare cases, but it accounted for 35 percent of the welfare cases living in their own homes,
36 percent of the cases in subsidized housing, 45 percent of the cases in room and board
arrangements, 35 percent of the cases living with relatives, and 90 percent of the cases living
in residential centres. The only type of housing where people with disabilities on welfare were
under-represented - and then only slightly - was rental housing. Single parents on welfare made proportionately more use of subsidized housing and
were much less likely to board or to live with relatives. Finally, there are interesting variations in the housing arrangements of welfare cases from
one province to another. They are partly due to local or regional housing preferences, partly
a function of the availability of subsidized housing, and partly the result of housing options
that are promoted by provincial welfare officials - such as "encouraging" single people to
make room and board arrangements rather than having their own apartments. Table 14 on the
next page shows the differences in detail. The proportion of homeowners among welfare cases was highest in the Atlantic provinces
- presumably because of the region's long-standing preference for home ownership. The
percentage of welfare cases living in their own homes was well above the average of seven
percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of renters in the Atlantic provinces was well below
the average of 68 percent. The same pattern was evident in the New Brunswick statistics for March 1996. Nineteen
percent of the New Brunswick cases owned their own homes, 49 percent lived in rental housing,
18 percent were in room and board arrangements, 12 percent lived with relatives, and
the remaining two percent were other and unknown. The percentage of welfare cases in rental housing was extremely high in Alberta
and British Columbia. Room and board arrangements were more common in Quebec and Saskatchewan than
in other provinces.





Own Home


Room & Board

Subsidized Housing

Live with Relatives

Other & Unknown

All Housing Types

Newfoundland 7,210-20% 11,828-33% 1,898-5% 3,211-9% 10,188-28% 1,551-4% 35,886-100%
Prince Edward Island 734-13% 3,060-55% 357-6% 0-0% 664-12% 799-14% 5,614-100%
Nova Scotia Provincial 4,479-14% 17,698-57% 2,128-7% 1,836-6% 0-0% 4,901-16% 31,042-100%
New Brunswick Data Not Available
Quebec 34,526-7% 290,890-62% 68,715-15% 10,674-2% 60,167-13% 5,403-1% 470,375-100%
Ontario 34,383-6% 410,167-71% 41,449-7% 69,223-12% 0-0% 22,571-4% 577,795-100%
Manitoba Provincial 1,059-4% 11,647-46% 424-2% 5,542-22% 2,010-8% 4,749-19% 25,431-100%
Saskatchewan 2,759-7% 22,550-58% 4,479-11% 2,399-6% 3,047-8% 3,890-10% 39,124-100%
Alberta 2,419-6% 33,519-84% 0-0% 4,111-10% 0-0% 44-0% 40,093-100%
British Columbia 9,504-5% 164,494-86% 6,680-3% 0-0% 965-1% 9,599-5% 191,242-100%
Totals 97,073-7% 965,853-68% 126,130-9% 96,996-7% 77,041-5% 53,507-4% 1,416,602-100%


NOTE: The statistics for Nova Scotia and Manitoba do not include municipal welfare cases.



The overwhelming majority of welfare cases in subsidized housing were in Ontario:
69,223 out of the total of 96,996. A closer look at the database shows that most of them were
unattached people or single-parent families. This is presumably because of Ontario's policies
on subsidized housing and the availability of subsidized housing to people under 65. Finally, the percentage of welfare cases living with relatives was proportionately the
highest in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. However, a number of the
Manitoba cases listed as other and unknown were young people on welfare with no housing
costs who were living at home with their parents.
Main page/ About/ Online Pubs/ Pubs List/ Statements
Welfare Recipients/ Poverty lines/ Reach us/ Related Sites/ Franšais