Kelowna releases housing study findings, and it's not good | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna releases housing study findings, and it's not good

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November 23, 2017 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - A housing needs assessment report released by the City of Kelowna recently, paints a bleak picture of what life will be like for the most vulnerable members of our society if current trends continue.

Kelowna has been consistently ranked among the least affordable cities in Canada for housing and the rental vacancy rate has been dropping since 2012, according to the report. It now sits at 0.6 per cent, also one of the lowest in the country.

The vacancy rate for homes with three or more bedrooms in Kelowna is zero per cent.

Close to one-third of renters spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, median house prices have nearly tripled over the past 15 years, but incomes have less than doubled.

And things aren’t likely to get better any time soon.

With a strong economy and above-average employment opportunities, the population of Kelowna is expected to grow to 178,500 by 2040, the report says.

The city needs 23,000 to 25,000 new homes over the next 20 years to keep up with demand, and with only 7,500 new units planned for the next five years, it's no surprise the cost to buy an average detached home in Kelowna is expected to climb past $1 million by 2040.

Those who can't keep up will have few options.

Kelowna has already seen an increase in shelter usage since 2015 from 74 to 90 people on average a night and the report estimates there are currently 233 “absolutely homeless” in the city. A further 273 people are temporarily homeless.

“In Kelowna, we are facing unprecedented housing challenges. Housing is in the midst of a boom cycle and while some residents may be benefiting from this, others are feeling squeezed out of a tight market and are becoming housing vulnerable," the report says.

“Home price growth will continue to outpace income growth. As home ownership becomes more challenging, the share of the population renting units will likely increase. These shifts will continue to put pressure on the demand for Housing with Supports, as low-income individuals are squeezed out of Market Housing due to rising costs.”

The report is part of the city's Journey Home and Healthy Housing Strategies and incorporated statistical analysis, consultation with professionals and interviews with Kelowna residents who have been homeless. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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