Vacancy rate drops in Vernon

The vacancy rate for Vernon in April was 3.4 per cent, according to CMHC

Finding a place to rent has got more challenging.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the vacancy rate for Vernon in April was 3.4 per cent, down from 4.1 per cent in spring 2014.

“It’s concerning, it’s going the wrong way for us,” said Juliette Cunningham, a city councillor who is active in promoting affordable housing.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment has gone from $794 to $811.

“When rents are going up and the vacancy rate is going down, it’s a double whammy,” said Cunningham.

“It puts pressure on low-income families.”

CMHC reports that the situation isn’t limited to just Vernon.

“Vacancy rates moved lower this spring as increased rental demand outpaced additions to rental supply,” said Carol Frketich, CMHC regional economist.

“Most of the province’s 27 centres surveyed in April reported lower vacancy rates compared to a year earlier.”

The vacancy rate in Kelowna is 1.9 per cent while it is 5.1 per cent in Kamloops, 1.6 per cent in Penticton and two per cent in Salmon Arm.

Cunningham insists provincial and federal governments need to take more responsibility for ensuring access to affordable housing.

“We will have conversations on social housing. We need a national housing strategy,” she said.

The City of Vernon has initiated some programs to promote attainable units, including grants for private sector developers who construct affordable housing.

“Habitat for Humanity also has a great project and we are trying to help them,” said Cunningham.