Rent prices still ‘out of reach’

Finding a place to live continues to drain financial resources for some Vernon residents.

Finding a place to live continues to drain financial resources for some Vernon residents.

A recent report indicates that there is more housing on the market but rent hasn’t decreased.

“Even though the stock is available, housing is out of reach for working families and individuals,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who is on the city’s affordable housing committee.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation states the vacancy rate has increased to 7.4 per cent from 6.7 per cent in October 2010, but on average, rent has only dropped slightly — from $714 in 2010 to $703 this year.

Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council, isn’t surprised by the figures.

“There are a lot of people leaving the community to find work elsewhere,” she said.

“We are losing people to Alberta and northern B.C. Housing units are opening up because of that.”

Reducing rents isn’t an easy solution, according to Sharkey, because many landlords purchased property when real estate was skyrocketing and they have mortgage payments.

“They are trying to hang on to the high prices just to make cost.”

CMHC states that the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Vernon is $635, while it is $773 for a two-bedroom apartment and $814 for a three-bedroom unit.

A housing forum is being planned for Jan. 26.

“We will pull together developers and non-profit agencies interested in affordable housing,” said Sharkey.

“We’re looking at some different models. We’re trying to find solutions to this issue.”

Cunningham believes the current situation is partly a result of funding cuts to B.C. Housing and the federal government not having a housing strategy.

“It will take conversations at all levels of government,” she said of addressing the shortage in affordable units.



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