25,000 Vancouver homes claim their total income is less than they spend on housing

WATCH: Some Vancouver households are paying more for housing per year than they are earning according to a local mathematician’s calcuations. Jill Bennett explains.

A Vancouver mathematician has used data from the 2011 National Household Survey to find some paradoxical facts about the city’s neighbourhoods.

In many wealthy enclaves – Coal Harbour, Dunbar, and Shaughnessy, for example – there are census tracts where over 30 per cent of households declare their yearly income as being lower than their yearly housing costs.

“I didn’t really do anything to it except put it on a map,” says Jens von Bergmann, who put the data into an interactive map on his company’s website.

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“It is definitely higher than what you see in other Canadian cities.”

There are roughly 25,000 households like this in Vancouver, but the exact houses aren’t known.

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“We don’t have those numbers on the individual household levels…and to protect privacy, they will aggregate it to certain levels,” says von Bergmann.

And the reasons why reported income is lower than reported housing costs can vary.

“It’s very hard to say in detail,” says von Bergmann.

“Wealth migration will probably play a large role, just because the scheme is set up to encourage this, to live on savings, or possibly in the longer term on undeclared foreign income, although that’s much harder to pinpoint.”

Tsur Somerville of UBC’s Centre for Economics and Real Estate says it’s too hard to draw any conclusions from the data.

“It becomes really, really messy and hard to figure out,” he says.

“There’s all kinds of different ways this could happen, and it’s really hard to look at this kind of very rough, very noisy data and point a finger at something.”

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