Little sign of progress easing Kelowna's atrocious rental vacancy rate | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Little sign of progress easing Kelowna's atrocious rental vacancy rate

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
June 01, 2018 - 2:00 PM

KELOWNA - Four new housing agreements covering 436 purpose-built rental units in Kelowna were signed off Monday by city council, part of their ongoing efforts since 2015 to provide more affordable rental housing options in the city.

It’s been a tough battle and the purpose-built vacancy rate has actually gone down since council declared it a top priority, from 0.7 per cent in 2015 to 0.2 per cent in the latest Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation rental market survey from October, 2017.

The next survey won’t come out until next fall and the CHMC isn’t willing to make an early prediction but with continued strong population growth and demand, there’s little sign of the vacancy rate increasing in any meaningful way.

“There’s been a few times our analysts thought they would see a softening of the vacancy rate due to all the purpose-built housing but it hasn’t happened yet,” CHMC media representative Len Catling said.

Kelowna has given out rental housing grants worth just over $1 million to 14 projects since 2015 as offsets to development cost charges.

The city also gives out long-term property tax exemption agreements to rental developments. While the tax exemptions last as long as the development remains a rental complex, nothing governs the rates they charge.

As an example, Mission Flats at 1469 KLO Rd. is advertising one-bedroom units for rent at $1,299 a month and two-bedroom units for $1,499. There is no price available for the three-bedroom units but there is a wait list.

Mission Flats received a rental housing grant of $119,628 in 2017 and will begin its ten-year property tax exemption for the 280-unit complex in either 2019 or 2020.

According to the city’s housing needs assessment of tenant households in Kelowna, 47 per cent spend greater than 30 of per cent of their income on housing costs compared to 19 per cent of owner households.

Spending 30 per cent of income on housing is considered the threshold of affordability.

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