Just shy of half of Penticton’s renters are paying 30 per cent or more of household incomes on shelters, according to recent census data, which could mean more work ahead for city hall than previously thought.
The Housing Needs Assessment commissioned by the city, conducted by Urbanics Consultants out of Vancouver, was presented to council at a June 6 committee of the whole meeting, which took a deep dive into deficiencies in Penticton’s housing market.
According to the data, released last week, 49.4 per cent of households are now at that 30-per-cent threshold. Meanwhile, just 16.3 per cent of owners are hitting that threshold, despite the city’s red-hot real estate market and rising cost of housing.
City of Penticton special projects manager Ben Johnson said he wasn’t able to comment specifically on the new data, having not seen the numbers, yet, but he wasn’t too shocked that there was a hike.
“It wouldn’t be entirely surprising if there was an increase in the number of households in core needs, because we’ve seen rents increasing pretty notably in the last couple of years due to the very minimal vacancy rate that we have,” he said.
The Urbanics report shows a vacancy rate of one to two per cent in Penticton, also noting the rapidly rising cost of rent. An even higher percentage of Penticton residents were living in “core need” according to that report. Core need includes those who live in overcrowded or under-maintained spaces, and accounted for just over 37 per cent of renters.
According to a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation release last year, 26.4 per cent of Canadian households overall were considered within the core housing need in 2011, well below Penticton’s rate.
This year’s data release is of scant difference, with Penticton’s 49.4-per-cent rate paying 30 per cent or more on shelter going unmatched by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (47.3 per cent), B.C. (43.3) and Canada (40). The RDOS rate appears to be largely carried by Penticton, with Osoyoos and Oliver both around the 40-per-cent mark or under. Princeton is a little higher at 45 per cent.
Penticton’s rate also tops Kelowna’s, at 46.9 per cent, Vancouver’s (44.3), Nelson’s (47.2) and Victoria’s (45.9).
Development services director Anthony Haddad pointed to some of the efforts by the city to address the tight housing market, particularly looking at a recent data release by the city, which shows upward of 1,000 units approved since 2014, about 70 per cent of which were multi-family housing projects.
“So they are those a bit more affordable housing types that would typically be seen as an addition to the rental stock in Penticton,” Haddad said. “Council has been pretty aggressive in supporting that more affordable housing through the approval processes that they’ve been involved in.”
With the Urbanics report released late spring this year, the city had acknowledged early on an update would be required as more census data was released.
“We’ve got a contract with the same consultants to look at it, and they’ll re-look at their conclusions and provide an update to the study based on the new data,” Johnson said, adding the new report should be out by the end of the year.