Catching up on affordable housing in Canada often feels like a losing game. No matter how many new units are produced, there are always more people in need of affordable accommodations, from newcomers to young people growing up in an economically unparalleled time to born-and-bred Canadians who have — understandably — seen their financial situations deteriorate amidst high interest rates and an ever-escalating cost of living.

Even if it’s not nearly enough, there is progress to speak of, however. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its 2023 Annual Report this week, and that revealed that the government agency delivered on 153,708 “new, repaired, or assisted” affordable housing units for those in core housing need over the course of last year. The target for 2023 was 120,000 units, which the CMHC handily sailed past by a margin of around 28%.

In addition, through CMHC programs, 494,319 new, repaired, or assisted units were brought to market last year — again, surpassing the 2023 target of 350,000 units. “This significant achievement was largely due to the success of the Affordable Housing Fund, including several large agreements with provinces and municipalities to repair units, and strong uptake of our multi-unit mortgage loan insurance product, MLI Select,” a press release from the crown cooperation says.

According to the report, all of those figures take into consideration "commitments to all new and existing units facilitated through CMHC’s activities, including National Housing Strategy, Mortgage Loan Insurance, Legacy programs as well as Partnerships (units facilitated through the Incremental Affordable Housing Funding) and Innovation."

CMHC affordable housingCanada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's 2023 Annual Report

Speaking specifically to output under the National Housing Strategy — a more than $82B program launched back in 2017 — CMHC reports that 134,707 new units were “created or committed,” while 272,169 were repaired or committed to be repaired. The targets for those were 160,000 and 300,000, respectively for 2023.

As well, the report says that $2.5B was committed to Canadian municipalities in 2023 as part of the Housing Accelerator Fund — a $4B initiative from the federal government that cities across the country can tap into to expedite their housing supply goals. In 2023 alone, the feds worked out deals with 16 Canadian cities to fast-track the delivery of some 68,092 housing units.

Also under the National Housing Strategy umbrella is the Rapid Housing Initiative, under which, 15,742 new affordable units were brought to market in 2023 for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. That figure includes 6,239 units for Indigenous peoples specifically.

Affordable Housing