It’s become so hard for young Canadians to own a home that Habitat for Humanity is expanding its mandate with some units on offer for singles or couples with minimum incomes of $90,000.

In the past, the non-profit has been focused on providing homes for families. But the organization has now partnered with developer Collecdev to create the HomeStart program, with four of 10 units on offer in a Toronto-area housing development designated for singles or couples.

“As much as we have traditionally focused on helping families become homeowners, and we recognize how much families are struggling, we also are increasingly seeing that level of stress and struggle for singles and couples, particularly young people,” Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area, told in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Habitat for Humanity partners with homeowners by offering a down-payment-free mortgage based on their income, with homeowners committing to 500 hours of volunteer work with the organization.


The new development at 500 Wilson Ave. in North York is slated to open for residents in 2024 and applications are now open for the 10 Habitat-designated units. The successful applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who cannot afford a home conventionally, and have a minimum household income between $90,000 and $130,000 annually.

Underwood said the income requirements for the application represent the reality of the current economy, considering the high costs related mortgage and condo fees needed to take over a unit.

“It is absolutely a sign of the times,” she said.

“Things are changing for us in terms of the cost to deliver, but … things are changing in terms of how much those numbers that sound so big -- $90,000 to $130,000 -- don't get you very far anymore.”

Affordable housing has become a hot-button issue across the country, as interest rates and a tight housing supply drive up prices and push homeownership out of reach for many younger Canadians.

A recent report from RATESDOTCA found the average home price in Canada is 141 per cent more than the average family can afford, while Toronto prices are 162 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, a report from Abacus Data last month found 81 per cent of young Canadians are worried about the long-term impact of the housing market on their financial stability.

“This absolutely can and will be an opportunity for young people, young couples, young professionals, people that are saying, ‘I just really want that first opportunity to say these keys are my keys, I own this home,’” Underwood said. “We want to encourage people that this could be you.”


After the project in North York, Habitat for Humanity GTA is planning to expand the HomeStart program to more areas.

“It is certainly our intention to make this available,” Underwood said. “We do have some other projects now with two bedrooms in them and we'll be looking at whether we'll apply this program there.”