Rental Housing Index shows crisis level of spending in BC

BC Non-Profit Housing Association launches innovative ‘Rental Housing Index’ that brings crucial rental data to the forefront.

Rental Housing Index shows crisis level of Spending in BC
Photo by Daniel Lobo via Flickr

Almost half of all renter households are paying more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent in BC, according to new data released today from the Rental Housing Index. Nearly one quarter of British Columbians are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent, putting them at a crisis level of spending. Both of these numbers show that more British Columbians are facing a serious affordability crunch.

The results come from the Rental Housing Index, a new interactive map of rental data launched today by the BC Non Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) at their annual conference.  The Index, developed in partnership with Vancity credit union, is one of the first in its kind—and examines issues of income, affordability and overcrowding across nearly 100 communities in BC. The Rental Housing Index will provide housing planners, non-profit housing developers and all levels of government with customized data and other critical information they need to plan for future housing needs in the province.

Currently, the average rent plus utilities for 135,425 renters costs $1,089. Households paying more than 30 percent of income on rent are 46 per cent, while households paying more than 50 per cent of income on rent are 25 per cent.

“This is a chance to look at the province through the eyes of renters,” said executive director of BC Non-Profit Housing Association Tony Roy. “Many know their rent is too high, but feel like they don’t have a choice but to pay up. We’re not building more rental housing, so renters are forced to overspend, living in overcrowded or deteriorated conditions, or they become homeless. It’s a shame because it’s far cheaper to plan for more rental housing than to deal with the huge costs linked to homelessness, on the health and justice systems. If we don’t invest in affordable housing today, we end up paying a much higher price down the road.”

Linda Morris, senior vice-president of Vancity added, “The Rental Housing Index findings demonstrate that almost one of every two renters in British Columbia do not have access to adequate and reasonably priced housing. These findings point to the need to develop affordable housing alternatives through a variety of tools ranging from policy changes to developing new partnerships that include land and capital investments.”

The RHI also reveals that affordable rental housing is not only a big city issue—many renter households in small towns and communities across BC are financially struggling. Smaller communities such as Duncan and Sooke are seeing upwards of 30 per cent of their renter population spending more than half of their income on rent.

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