Affordable housing pursued in tight market

The overall vacancy rate for Vernon in October was 1.5 per cent, down from 1.9 per cent during the same month in 2016

Options are being considered as the housing crunch in Vernon remains tight.

Councillors Juliette Cunningham, Catherine Lord and Dalvir Nahal recently attended an affordable housing conference in the Lower Mainland and part of the event included looking at housing initiatives.

“We saw some very creative projects,” said Cunningham.

The city’s ongoing interest in addressing housing needs comes at the same time as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports that the overall vacancy rate for Vernon in October was 1.5 per cent, down from 1.9 per cent during the same month in 2016.

In terms of a one-bedroom apartment, the vacancy rate has gone from 1.4 to 1.3 per cent while it has decreased from 2.5 to 1.7 per cent for a two-bedroom suite. Bachelor suites have remained the same at 1.2 per cent.

For average rent, it has gone from $587 to $619 a month for a bachelor suite, $705 to $765 for a one-bedroom unit, $860 to $913 for a two-bedroom apartment and $935 to $998 for a three-bedroom unit.

CMHC also reports that there are a total of 1,547 apartment units compared to 1,558 in October 2016. The total number includes 83 bachelor suites, 682 one-bedrooms, 685 two-bedrooms and 97 three-bedrooms.

In Surrey, Cunningham visited a project that provided a mix of housing types, including units for those with developmental disabilities.

“I like the idea of the inclusivity and the mixing of those populations,” said Cunningham.

In Richmond, the tour went to an eight-story building that included one-storey of greenspace for tenants. There was also spaces for women and children fleeing abusive situations and a day care.

During the conference, B.C. Housing referenced Vernon several times when it comes to taking action to address homelessness and affordable housing.

“I felt such a sense of pride when they talked about Vernon,” said Nahal.

The city recently entered into a partnership with the provincial government to develop two new modular-housing projects in the community.

And through the sale of the city’s McMechan Reservoir property, the developer has agreed to include some attainable housing. Carriage houses and secondary suites could also exist as mortgage helpers.

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