Affordable rent continues to prove challenging for many local residents.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports the average Vernon rent increased slightly between October 2011 and the same month this year.
“There is adequate rentals for those with no income barriers but there’s still huge pressures for others,” said Juliette Cunningham, a city councillor.
“I don’t see the pressure for families changing.”
According to CMHC, the rent for a bachelor suite in Vernon during October 2011 was $518 while it is $525 this year. For a one-bedroom apartment, the average has gone from $634 to $637 a month.
And for a three-bedroom apartment, the average rent has increased from $857 to $867 a month.
Cunningham insists the city is well aware of the impact high rent has on families and the community.
“We will keep chipping away at it,” she said, adding that changes to the secondary suite bylaw are being considered as a way of expanding affordable options.
Conversations are also underway with the private sector to include affordable housing units in new residential developments.
“We are also working with B.C. Housing and the land trust,” said Cunningham.
Community-based organizations are also attempting to find solutions for residents.
“Habitat for Humanity is working towards creating more housing,” said Cunningham.
CMHC reports that the overall apartment vacancy rate for Vernon is 5.8 per cent, down from 7.4 per cent in October 2011.
Cunningham isn’t concerned that Vernon’s rental market may be tightening.
“That (5.8 per cent) is still considered a healthy vacancy rate. In 2008, it was 1.4 per cent,” she said.
For specific categories, the vacancy rate for bachelor suites is 4.8 per cent, 5.8 per cent for one-bedroom apartments and 9.2 per cent for three-bedroom units.
In Kelowna, the apartment vacancy rate was four per cent in October, up from three per cent for the same month last year.