Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Core housing need

Release date: November 17, 2021


Core housing need refers to whether a private household's housing falls below at least one of the indicator thresholds for housing adequacy, affordability or suitability, and would have to spend 30% or more of its total before‑tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (attains all three housing indicator thresholds).

Housing indicator thresholds are defined as follows:

Adequate housing is reported by their residents as not requiring any major repairs.

Affordable housing has shelter costs equal to less than 30% of total before‑tax household income.

Suitable housing has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of resident households according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS), conceived by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and provincial and territorial representatives.

Only private, non‑farm, non‑reserve and owner‑ or renter‑households with incomes greater than zero and shelter‑cost‑to‑income ratios less than 100% are assessed for 'core housing need.'

Non‑family households with at least one maintainer aged 15 to 29 attending school are considered not to be in 'core housing need' regardless of their housing circumstances. Attending school is considered a transitional phase, and low incomes earned by student households are viewed as being a temporary condition.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016Footnote 1 (25% sample).

Reported for

Private households in non‑farm dwellings

Question number(s)

Not applicable


In core housing need; Not in core housing need; Not applicable


Not applicable


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