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Thousands of Thompson-Okanagan renters mired in affordable housing crisis, new index says

About a quarter of all renters in the Thompson-Okanagan are facing an affordable housing crisis, according to a new study.
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September 11, 2015 - 9:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - About a quarter of all renters in the Thompson-Okanagan are facing an affordable housing crisis, according to a new study.

The new Canadian Rental Housing Index is an interactive map which offers a snapshot of rental housing conditions across the country. You can search by city or electoral area riding, and find the number of renter households, average rent, and what people are paying for rent versus how much money they make. 

The study found that nationally, 19 per cent of renter households pay more than 50 per cent of their income on housing, which is considered a crisis level of spending. It’s slightly higher around the Thompson-Okanagan, where between 22 to 27 per cent of renters are forced to shell out over half their earnings on rent alone. Housing is typically considered affordable if the tenant pays 30 per cent or less of their income on rent plus utilities.

In the Central Okanagan — where average rent plus utilities is $1,112 — 4,390 rental households are spending more than half their earnings on rent. That’s about or 27 per cent of all 16,130 units rental households. The index also measures overcrowding and bedroom shortfall — the minimum number of additional bedrooms a community would need to house all renters suitably, according to national standards. The Central Okanagan, for example, would need at least 1,450 more bedrooms to accommodate all renters suitably.

In the North Okanagan, there are said to be 6,870 renter households, with a quarter of them spending over 50 per cent of their income on rent plus utilities. About six per cent are reportedly living in overcrowded housing situations. The study says at least 500 more bedrooms are needed to meet the bedroom shortfall and ensure everyone is housed suitably.

Of 10,995 renter households in the Thompson-Nicola, some 22 per cent are paying more than half their earnings on rent. About eight per cent are living in overcrowded conditions, and at least 990 more bedrooms are needed to meet the housing shortfall.

Of 36,050 homes in the Okanagan-Similkameen, 8,340, or 23 per cent are rentals, and in many cases, tenants are spending a large chunk of change on rent. The index found 24 per cent of households are spending more than half their income on rent and utilities, and that 450 of them, or five per cent, are living in overcrowded conditions.

Overall, the province ranks high on the list for affordability issues; it has the third highest rent in the country and is the province with the most people paying over 50 per cent of their income on rent. 

You can check out the interactive map here.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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