The District of Clearwater is seeing an increasing number of renters but those looking for a place to live are finding it harder than ever to meet their needs.
A new housing needs assessment report by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District suggests rental households within the DOC increased by more than 50 per cent, or 85 more properties, from 2011-2016 while the number of owner households dropped by nine per cent. And though the median household income for those who rent rose 16 per cent to $39,144, this is just over half of the median income for homeowners, $72,175 (a six per cent increase), according to the report.
Seventeen per cent of Clearwater families are considered “low income” according to Statistics Canada — 24 per cent of children below 18 belong to a low-income household.
“More families and more people are renting at increasingly expensive rates in an increasingly low vacancy environment,” said Sandy Mackay, a housing research and policy lead for M’akola Development Services, a consulting firm based in Victoria.
The findings highlight the need for more access to housing that is affordable for all incomes, Mackay said, as well as a variety of homes for those who need it, such as families requiring multiple rooms or seniors who wish to downsize. Many seniors who participated in the TNRD study said they were increasingly worried about their ability to maintain their larger properties, but found they were unable to downsize because of the lack of spaces available and the cost to do so.
Clearwater’s senior population has grown almost 20 per cent from 2011 to 2016, and is projected to increase another 50 per cent by 2026, the report showed. In the next five years, those 65 and over are anticipated to represent roughly 56 per cent of the DOC’s total population.
In contrast, the under 20 age group declined by 15 per cent between 2011 and 2016, and is anticipated to drop another 15 per cent by 2026.
The report recommends the DOC will need a variety of rental units, such as apartment buildings with fewer floors and duplexes or townhouses, to support the area’s future growth. Three-bedroom homes, for example, continue to be in high demand.
Rental households aren’t the only prices going up, however. Homeownership costs are rising as well, and demand is outstripping supply. This is exacerbated by local industry, such as the Trans Mountain pipeline, boosting demand.
After much debate, council agreed to revise a motion to receive and adopt the housing needs report for consideration.
The full report can be viewed here.