“The gap between incomes and housing costs has grown so wide that bold action is long overdue. Sixty percent of Victorians rent their home. Renting is the only way many young people, singles, seniors and families can afford to house themselves. They all add to a city’s diversity, vibrancy and potential. So it seems in everyone’s interest to help them feel more welcome in our city.” Leslie Campbell, Focus Magazine.
With the escalating cost of purchasing property in Victoria the cost of rental units has increased proportionally to a rate that is often discouraging. Some families and seniors and employees will have to choose to live in more affordable communities. The diversity of the community and our ability to support local business will be lessened. All these paycheques, taxes, business growth will be spent elsewhere. With affordable housing options available families and businesses could flourish in our region.
As a region with multiple universities and colleges Victoria’s economy is greatly impacted by our student populations. Student housing built on land held by post secondary institutions can be built much more reasonably as the cost of land need not be included. With the cost of rental housing climbing at a frightening rate and a low vacancy rate students are finding it financially difficult to choose Victoria for their post secondary education.
Current rental housing units are being converted to condominiums and vacation rentals as the cost of land increases. Long term residents often seniors and working people are evicted and cannot find alternative affordable rental options.
Family Housing – Generation Squeeze
The increase in housing pricing has been to the great benefit of the parents and grandparents who purchased homes decades ago. These same high prices squeeze the generation 40 and under with huge debt loads in order to purchase a home. Coupled with high student debt, wages that have fallen compared to a generation ago and jobs that rarely contribute to pensions they are placed in a terrible financial squeeze!
Compared to 1976 an income that required one earner in the family now requires two income earners. Check out the stats in this video from Generation Squeeze!
Marika Albert the managing director of the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria tells us that housing costs are the largest driver of affordability challenges in the region, for both home owners and renters. The Council is responsible for the Housing Affordability Partnership and has produced significant reports on housing subsidy programs like the Rental Assistance Program. The Council is also a member of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and has contributed to understanding the barriers to affordable housing for farm workers. They are currently working on an initiative to create a new pool of capital social financing for the region to support the creation of new units of affordable housing.
“Marika and other members on the City of Victoria’s Housing Affordability Task Force looked particularly at ways to generate more housing for households in the $18,000-$57,000 per annum range. City of Victoria is endorsing the creation of an “inclusionary housing density bonus policy” for the Downtown core. Inclusionary zoning essentially means that if housing is built in that zone, it has to represent the income distribution of the area—thereby maintaining its diversity. Albert believes, “The more diverse your community is the more it thrives. Jane Jacobs has talked about that a lot in her work.” Leslie Campbell, Focus Magazine.
Legacy Housing Land Trust is one of the solutions