Decent housing is necessary for us to succeed, prosper and be proud to call Powell River our home. We need affordable housing and a diversity of types for people at all stages of life and at all income levels.
Rent or Own?
Powell River renters are feeling more of a bite. The percentage of households spending 30% or more of their income on rent increased from 43.3% in 2005 to 47.7% in 2010. This percentage has grown more in Powell River than overall in BC, where the percentages were 43.7% in 2005 and 45.3% in 2010. Privately owned homes were more economical. A lower proportion of Powell River homeowners had high home expenses. The percentage of households spending 30% or more of income on major homeowner expenses was 14.1% in 2005 and 14.7% in 2010, markedly lower than BC’s average of 22.8% in 2005 and 23.8% in 2010.
In September 2015, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, together with VanCity Credit Union and other partners, released the Canadian Rental Housing Index. That index identified affordability of rental housing in Powell River as a critical issue. Overspending on rental housing was identified as a severe issue. 25% of all renters pay more than half of their income on rent. Renter households here earning less than $17,327 pay an average of 57% of their income each month on rent plus utilities. Those earning between $17,328 to $32,920 pay an average of 40% of their monthly income on rent and utilities.
Rents and Vacancies
The average monthly rent for housing in Powell River for October 2014 ($651/month) is lower than the BC average ($1005/month). But, apartments here are becoming scarce. The vacancy rate in the City of Powell River was 6.1% in 2011, 5.5% in 2012, and 5.4% in 2013. In October 2014, it was down substantially to 2.0%, a level where tenants may have difficulty finding suitable housing. As of June 2015, there have been no new apartment or rental housing starts in Powell River since 2005.
Housing Units Requiring Repair
The proportion of households living in housing (rental and owned) requiring major repairs in Powell River in 2011 was 9.9%. This is higher than the provincial figure of 7.2%. In the same year, 29.4% of Powell River (CA) housing required minor repairs and 60.7% required only regular maintenance. Within the City, 9.4% needed major repair, but the percentage was very different for owner and renter households. For owners, 6.6% needed major repair, while for renters, the proportion was 19.3%. “Major repairs” included items such as defective plumbing or electrical wiring and structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings.
Powell River Property Buyers
In 2014, 129 property buyers (36.5% of buyers) were from outside Powell River. Of those, 43% came from the Lower Mainland, 24% from Alberta, and 8% from Vancouver Island. Only three buyers came from outside Canada. Future circumstances and projects might cause changes in these numbers
From the Survey …
Do you think people who need decent and safe rental housing in Powell River can find a place they can afford?
Do you think people who want to buy a home in Powell River can find a suitable house at a price they can pay?
Survey responders think that people looking for a place to rent have a much harder time than people who are looking for somewhere to buy. This is partly because of the low vacancy rate for rentals, but also because, as the data show, Powell Riverites pay a larger percentage of their income to rent than to own.
Even Tighter Rental Market?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency. CMHC rental and vacancy cost statistics are based on apartments and townhouses, but much of Powell River’s rental stock consists of single detached houses and secondary suites. There is poor tracking of the availability of these as rental units, but the community advisory group suspects that there are fewer of these units available, as sales have removed them from the rental market. This could be contributing to the difficulty in finding rental housing that many people are experiencing.