Vital Signs 2018


Homeownership Affordability

Hamilton’s average house price in 2017 was $501,533, up 17% from 2016, double the average price in 2009 of $244,653, and over three times the 2000 average of $145,1921. As the Spectator’s All about Us reported, 2016 average house sale prices ranged from $172,000 in the least expensive neighbourhood, to almost $880,000 in the most expensive2. Over the past four years, Hamilton has had some of the fastest rising house prices in Canada. Average Hamilton homebuyers can now expect to spend six times their annual income on a house purchase, up from 3.5 times in 20103.

Renter Affordability

In 2017, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,029, still below provincial average, but up from $962 in 2016, and $854 in 20124. Since 2012, Hamilton rents have risen 4.1% annually, Southern Ontario’s fastest increase, and twice the rate of inflation. Supply has also tightened: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers a 2% – 3% rental vacancy rate to be “healthy”. Hamilton’s 2017 vacancy rate for all apartments dropped to 2.6% from 4.6% in 2016, and the city-wide vacancy rate for the most affordable units was 2.1%5. CMHC cites decreased home buying among renters as the primary reason for this tightening.


The number of people using emergency shelters dropped to 2,808 people in 2015 (the most recent data available) from 3,680 in 2010, a decrease of 24%6. The gains have been seen primarily in the men’s shelter system, as occupancy rates in women’s shelters have exceeded 100% since 2014. Over the past four years, the City and community agencies have successfully housed 631 people who were homeless7.

The 2016 “Point in Time Count” conducted by the City of Hamilton and the 20,000 Homes campaign interviewed 504 people who were experiencing homelessness in Hamilton over a two-day period8.

They found:

Housing Starts

The number of new housing starts in 2017 was 1,750 (through November). This was lower than the 2,119 starts in 2016, but higher than the 1,462 units started in 2015. Over the past decade, the number of housing starts has fluctuated between 1,800 and 2,200 units9.

Number of New Units of Rental Housing

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, there have been 418 purpose-built rental starts in Hamilton since 2013. Almost 300 of these units received funding through the Federal/Provincial Affordable Housing Program, which will mean rents will be 80% of average market rents, or “affordable”10. As part of its Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, the City has set a target of 300 new affordable units annually11.

Social Housing Waitlist

The number of households on the waitlist for rent-geared-to-income housing increased to 6,293 in 2017, up from 5,967 in 2016, and representing a 72% increase from 2007, when 3,663 households were waiting12. The average wait varies by area of the city and type of housing requested. For single-family homes and one-bedroom apartments, the wait can be over eight years. For bachelor units and units for seniors, the wait can be much shorter.

1 Realtors® Association of Hamilton-Burlington, April 2018. Data by special request.
2 For a map of house sale prices by neighbourhood, visit the Hamilton Spectator’s All about Us website
3 as reported in The Hamilton Spectator, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Hamilton less affordable for homebuyers.
4 City of Hamilton, April 23, 2018. Report to City Council. Defining affordable housing and Hamilton’s rental market. HSC18003.
5 Ibid.
6 City of Hamilton, 2016. Point-in-time count: community debrief. March 4, 2016.
7 City of Hamilton, Housing Division. Data by special request.
8 City of Hamilton, 2016. Point-in-time-count.
9 City of Hamilton. Annual housing starts. Accessed April 2018.
10 City of Hamilton. Housing Division. Data by special request.
11 City of Hamilton. Annual rental housing starts. Accessed April 2018.
12 City of Hamilton. Community Wellness Indicators – Social Indicators. Accessed April 2018.