Despite rising incomes in Central Okanagan, more needs to be done to keep poverty at bay - InfoNews

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Despite rising incomes in Central Okanagan, more needs to be done to keep poverty at bay

Kelowna's homeless are just part of the 10 per cent of Central Okanagan residents who have "core housing needs."
February 24, 2020 - 10:53 AM

With 10.2 per cent of Central Okanagan households considered to be in need of core house, the Central Okanagan Poverty Reduction Committee is asking Kelowna city council to fund a poverty reduction strategy.

Being in core housing need means households have to spend more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income to pay for housing, according to a poverty reduction committee report. The provincial average is 14.9 per cent.

The poverty reduction committee, which was created in 2017 to study the issue, is presenting the report to Kelowna city council this afternoon, Feb. 24. It shows, for example, how incomes vary throughout the Central Okanagan and how this region compares to the rest of the province.

It shows that the region’s population grew by 42.7 per cent in the last 20 years (1996 to 2016) with Lake Country growing the fastest at 43.5 per cent while the Okanagan Indian Band’s population fell by 13.2 per cent (254 people).

It also shows a great disparity in household median incomes throughout the region with West Kelowna topping the list at $83,942 while, at the other end of the spectrum, Okanagan Indian Band households made just under $51,000.

Those are median incomes so many residents fall below those levels. That means almost 7,500 households (2,640 owners and 4,795 renters) are classified as being in core housing need out of a total of 81,385 households.

Homeowners need a household income of $76,600 per year while renters need to bring in at least $50,000 a year to be above the core housing need threshold.

The report also shows that the median household income has grown faster in the Central Okanagan than the provincial average.

In 2010, the Central Okanagan was below the provincial average. Over the next five years, incomes increased by 19.6 per cent in this region versus 16 per cent provincially. The Central Okanagan’s median household income in 2015 was $71,127 verses $69,995 provincially, the report states.

Council will be asked to support a $149,000 grant application so the committee can move to the next phase of its work, which is to draft a poverty reduction strategy for the region. That’s due for completion in October 2021.

CENTRAL OKANAGAN MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOMES:

  • West Kelowna: $83,942
  • Lake Country: $83,243
  • Westbank First Nation (IR10): $77,227
  • Peachland: $71,872
  • Kelowna: $68,627
  • Westbank First Nation (IR9): $53,742
  • Okanagan Indian Band: $50,987

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