The number of Calgarians who rent their homes is growing faster than those who own them, new census data from Statistics Canada suggests.
Since 2011, the number of renter households grew by 37.3 per cent while the number of homeowners grew by 15.9 per cent.
The housing situation in Calgary reflects national trends where homeownership rates are declining, particularly amongst young adult populations.
In 2021, only 36.5 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 29 owned a home compared to 44.1 per cent in 2011.
That trend is likely due to the fact that homeownership is financially unattainable for the majority of young and vulnerable populations.
That’s the case for Maxwell Cotterill, a biological anthropology student at the University of Calgary.
Housing insecurity has been a big problem for students: for the first time ever, on-campus housing at the U of C is full and students are competing with other renters for housing.
Cotterill, who is originally from Manitoba, said they want to own a home someday but that depends on his career. They said rent in Calgary is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
“It solely depends on my education and how that leads to future financial capabilities… I have no other option in Calgary than to rent,” Cotterill said.
“I don’t have any savings to necessarily buy a home right now, so I’m hoping my education will help me with that.”
Fable Dowling, a recent U of C graduate and a spokesperson for ACORN in Calgary, is not surprised by the recent Satistics Canada report.
ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is a tenant advocacy group aiming to represent low- and middle-income tenants that is fighting for rent control in Calgary.
Most renters are renting out of necessity and the trends are indicative of how “increasingly unaffordable” the housing market is in the city, Dowling said.
“(Homeownership) is just not realistic when you look at the price of rent and the price of (real estate) right now,” he said.
“There’s always going to be a demand for housing and affordable housing … But there isn’t any incentive for corporations and landlords to put a cap on rent.
“With a minimum-wage job, you can rent in some places in the city, but as rental prices increase and the price of other things increase it’s going to be harder to afford most things let alone save for a house.”
Jeff Randle, an analyst at Statistics Canada, also said the trend reflects younger people’s preferences for downtown living where condos and apartments make up the bulk of the rental market.
According to a Statistics Canada report in April, 49.1 per cent of downtown Calgary residents are younger adults aged 25 to 40.
“Construction trends in Canada are moving more and more towards multi-dwelling buildings like condos and apartments,” he said.
“We see younger people preferring a downtown lifestyle more than older generations, and millennials have represented the largest proportion of people who live in downtowns where most of these multi-dwellings are rented.”
But Randle noted that the decision to rent or own a home is very complicated and nuanced, which aren’t reflected in the census data.
“There are a lot of factors that play into it … It’s a really complicated question that a lot of Canadians face,” the analyst said.
“The census isn’t really designed to find out why this happens but it does give a snapshot of where we are right now or were in 2021, recognizing that a lot has changed since then.”