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Vernon offers new grant program with hope of expanding limited rental housing options

May 27, 2015 - 2:30 PM

VERNON - Building a new rental unit in Vernon? There’s a grant for that.

To combat a shortage of rental housing in the city, Vernon council has introduced a new grant program to encourage development. Up to $4,000 per unit is now available for the construction of rental complexes.

The city hasn't seen the construction of any major apartment buildings in a number of years, and with the loss of a roughly 35 unit complex to fire in 2011, the inventory of units in the city has remained low, Coun. Brian Quiring says.

“I think people are having a hard time finding places to live,” he says.

The grant is geared at apartment-style residences and is only available to those developing complexes of four or more units to be used specifically as rentals.

A report released last year by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation put Vernon’s rental vacancy rate at 4.1 per cent, down from 7.7 per cent the year before.

“We have such a low inventory of good rentals, especially for multi-family, so we’re just trying to encourage developers to do the uptake on that,” Coun. Juliette Cunningham says, adding a similar program has been successful in Kelowna.

The city is already working on providing affordable housing — also in short supply — but this project will focus only on increasing the sheer volume of available rentals in the city.

The federal government used to provide various incentives to encourage the construction of rental housing, but that funding dried up years ago, leaving municipalities to get creative, Cunningham says.

RELATED LINK

Good luck finding a rental unit for under $645 in Vernon

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.

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