Examining the “New Normal” and Inequality in the Housing Transitions of Young People in Canada

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:30 PM
Room: F204
Distributed Paper
Marc MOLGAT , Social Work, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Susannah TAYLOR , University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
In Canada, young people’s housing transitions have become increasingly protracted and are marked by lengthier periods of cohabitation with parents and returns to the family home. This has been occurring in a context where access to postsecondary education has widened but at the same been subjected to increasing tuition and housing costs in most large urban centres, and especially in some provinces. Most young adults in Canada today are therefore receiving considerable support from their families over the course of their housing trajectories and, arguably, this trend now constitutes the “new normal” in the transition to adulthood. However, young people from lower class backgrounds, those who leave home for the street, or those who exit child welfare systems at the age of majority often cannot count on parental support for housing, and experience much more problematic housing transitions. Our paper will first provide the context in which these housing transitions are occurring, by focusing on available statistical and quantitative data on youth housing transitions and the housing policy environment. The second part of the part of the paper will present qualitative data based on retrospective interviews with two sets of young people: street-involved youth and young adults enrolled in high school vocational training programs. Using a life-course approach, the paper will examine how these young people depend upon and interact with housing markets, services and supports, and discuss how these types of housing trajectories contribute to the structuring of inequality over the course of the transition to adulthood.