It’s still challenging to find a place to live.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports that Vernon’s vacancy rate has gone from 5.8 per cent in October 2012 to 6.6 per cent in October 2013, but rent has risen slightly from $782 to $783.
“You would expect that when the vacancy rate goes up, the price of rent would go down through supply and demand, but we’re not seeing that,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director of the North Okanagan Social Planning Council.
“It’s not just low-income people struggling. Many people making minimum wage or above minimum wage are struggling if the rents stay high.”
While CMHC says the average rent for a two bedroom apartment is $783 a month, Sharkey believes market rent is likely higher in some circumstances.
However, Sharkey is unwilling to target landlords, explaining they have financial obligations.
“Some landlords purchased property when prices were high and they are charging what they need to make mortgage payments,” she said.
To try and deal with the situation, many non-profit agencies are working with the City of Vernon, other levels of government and the private sector to provide affordable units.
An example is Vernon Veridian on 24th Avenue, which provides homes for families, singles and people with disabilities. Kindale Developmental Association operates the complex.
In other cases, developers are constructing smaller units at a more affordable rent to meet demand.
“There are some creative projects out there,” said Sharkey.
The rental apartment vacancy rate in B.C.’s urban centres was 2.4 per cent in October 2013, down from 2.7 per cent in October 2012 according to CMHC.