High vulnerability to household food insecurity in a sample of Canadian renter households in government-subsidized housing

Andrée-Anne Fafard St-Germain, Valerie Tarasuk


OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity and examine household material circumstances related to food insecurity in a sample of renter households in government-subsidized housing.

METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the 2010 Survey of Household Spending were used to determine the food insecurity status of 455 renter households living in the 10 provinces and receiving a government housing subsidy. Multivariable logistic regressions were conducted to examine the relationship between household characteristics describing material circumstances and food insecurity.

RESULTS: One in two households was food insecure. Marginal, moderate and severe food insecurity affected 9.0%, 23.3% and 18.5% of households respectively. Household economic resources, as captured with after-tax income, after-rent income, or total expenditure, had an independent, inverse relationship with food insecurity. Among the other characteristics examined, more adults or children in the household, presence of a member with disability, and receipt of social assistance increased the odds of food insecurity, but receipt of social assistance lost statistical significance when controlling for total expenditure. Presence of a senior in the household was independently associated with lower odds of food insecurity.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that more effective income-based interventions are needed to address food insecurity among low-income households receiving government housing subsidies. A better integration of housing and income-based policies is necessary to support household food security among government-subsidized renter households.


Food insecurity; renters; housing subsidy; Canada

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.5879