Nearly two-in-five renters living in inadequate housing: report

The 120-page report focused on housing needs in Penticton, from affordability to housing stock

Nearly two-in-five Penticton renters live in inadequate housing, according to a new report to city council.

That report, the 120-page Housing Needs Assessment from Vancouver firm Urbanics Consultants, was commissioned in 2016, though planning manager Blake Laven said there had been talk of doing an assessment since 2015.

Housing has been downsizing for some time, now, with single-family detached homes once making up just over 50 per cent of the market. Now, that sits a few percentage points below 50 per cent, and it’s looking like it’s only going to get smaller.

Over the past five years, single-family detached homes have made up just 39 per cent of new stock being added to the market, according to building permit data.

Semi-detached and row houses are well below that, at around 10 per cent each, while apartments creep up, above the detached homes at a full 40 per cent of new homes being added to the market.

That’s coming at a rate of around 130 units of housing per year being added to the market. But while council touts high rates of development, including a record year, last year, Laven says there’s still some backlog to be catching up with.

“When you average that out over … the 10-year period, looking back from 2008-forward, we’re actually not seeing historic highs,” Laven said.

“Those years — 2011, ‘12, ‘13 — we’re really making up for the lack of construction during those periods. So, even though it seems like we’re going through a boom right now, that needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”

To add to downsizing homes, Penticton’s median household income is just 73 per cent of the provincial average at around $61,000 per year, according to the report, which takes from 2010 data.

Using median incomes for household sizes, the report also provided a table showing what type of house the average household could afford, with only couples with children able to afford single-detached homes.

By contrast, households of two or more could afford row houses, while none of the rest could afford anything beyond apartments in buildings five floors and fewer. The median single parent, according to the report, is only able to afford mobile homes.

A similar table was prepared for affordability in rentals, which painted a better picture for everyone but single-person households. According to the report, all households but lone parents and those living on their own can afford any type of rental.

Single parents, however, can afford up to a two-bedroom rental, while the median single-person household can’t even afford the average bachelor pad, valued at around $609 per month.

The single person, on an average income of just under $24,000 per year, would be cut off at $593 per month before spending more than their 30-per-cent affordability threshold.

“These average prices are actually based on what people are actually paying, not based on what it would cost to try and get into the market now,” Laven said. “I think if you’re trying to get into the market now, it’s going to be a little bit higher.”

While rentals appear to be more within the affordable range for the median households, outside of single renters, renters appear to be significantly more frequently sheltered inadequately, with 37.1 per cent without adequate housing.

That includes those living in spaces that are too expensive, too small or in need of repair, referred to as the “core need.” That number towers the 5.5 per cent of owner-occupied households considered to be in core need.

Those numbers, coming from 2011, are on the rise for both renters and owners, with renters at 28 per cent in 2006 and owners at 4.9 per cent.

“Really, on the rental side, it speaks to the level of the inadequacy of our rentals within Penticton,” Laven said.

Similar numbers based on the 2016 census data will be added to the report when that information is made available.

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