About a quarter of people living in Vancouver are spending 50 per cent or more of their income on rent, according to a new report from the BC Rental Housing Index.
The groups most susceptible to this are single moms, Aboriginal people, senior citizens, immigrant households, and people under 30.
“Rents are increasing fairly dramatically and incomes just aren’t keeping pace with that,” Jill Atkey, Director of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association told Vancity Buzz.
“I think there’s a perception that these renters are mostly young people working in hospitality or coffee shops, and that’s true to an extent, but now we see that they’re also made up of workers in healthcare, and social services, and construction.”
Atkey says with this data they’re showing that renters are driving the local economy, and high rents lead to recruitment and retention issues among employers due to a lack of affordability.
Contributing over 50 per cent of your income to rent is what the BC Rental Housing Index considers a “crisis level” of spending, and single mothers face the toughest challenges. A third of single moms in the province spend that much on rent or more.
Atkey says she wants this data to be used so local and regional level governments can identify communities that are most in need.
“The opposition leaders John Horgan and David Eby are using the data because data like this hasn’t really been accessible before and to demonstrate there are affordability issues in the province that aren’t really being addressed.”
CEO of Landlord BC David Hutniak thinks local governments need to step up to the plate to solve the problem.
“We need tax incentives for the building of new purpose-built rental and for the renovation and enhancement of aging existing rental stock to offset high land and construction costs,” he said in a statement.
“Better support for renters whose needs are not met through the market, be it through portable housing allowance or similar programming, is also needed.”
All of the expanded data will be available publicly on an interactive web map developed using census data. Visit rentalhousingindex.ca for more information.