Vernon vacancy rate takes a nose dive

Vernon’s rental vacancy rate dropped from 6.6 per cent in October 2013 to 3.7 per cent last month

The search for housing is more challenging.

Vernon’s rental vacancy rate dropped from 6.6 per cent in October 2013 to 3.7 per cent last month, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“We’re hearing that it’s getting more difficult to find units,” said Annette Sharkey, Social Planning Council executive director.

CMHC says the average rent for a two-bedroom unit in October was $788, up from $783 a year ago.

For many residents, including those who are employed, coming up with the monthly rent is a struggle.

“With rent costs, there is less money for food and transportation and that can be stressful for families and seniors,” said Sharkey, adding that some residents have to turn to social agencies for help.

The lower vacancy rate is directly related to supply and demand.

“There has been an increase in housing demand in the Interior,” said Sarena Teakles, a CMHC market analyst, adding that there isn’t a significant supply of available rental housing in Vernon.

While some new rental housing may be constructed, the current trend will likely continue through 2015.

“There won’t be a dramatic change next year,” said Teakles.

Sharkey has worked with the City of Vernon, developers and community agencies to try and promote affordable housing.

“This community has tried to track this problem but we can’t address the issue without senior government funding,” she said.

“We need more money towards supported units.”

Sharkey insists that providing people with stable housing reduces the tax dollars needed for health care and law enforcement.

“It’s not about charity. It’s about a better use of resources.”

In nearby communities, the vacancy rate is one per cent in Kelowna, 1.4 per cent in Salmon Arm and 3.9 per cent in Kamloops