The city is assessing housing needs in Kamloops and has determined that housing prices are high, rent is high, vacancy is low and seniors will need places to live in the coming years.
Ty Helgason, the city’s acting social and community development supervisor, said information for the city’s draft housing needs assessment was gleaned from BC Housing, the Canadian census, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BC Assessment and input from the community, via information sessions.
Helgason said the assessment determined home affordability is “deteriorating” in Kamloops and vacancy rates are below healthy rates.
“The purpose of this assessment is to get a clear picture of the entire housing market in Kamloops,” Helgason said.
According to the report, home ownership is increasingly becoming more challenging. Affordable housing is considered to be 30 per cent of a household’s income. When comparing mean household income in Kamloops ($99,000 in 2019) with average sale prices ($489,000 for a single-family house in 2019), the city has noted gaps.
A mortgage with 20 per cent down, a five per cent rate and modest budget for property taxes and other housing expenses leaves owners of single-family homes with the mean household income short $400 per month, the assessment notes. With 10 per cent down, that gap increases to $770.
According to BC Assessment, the average assessed value for a home in Kamloops increased by 118 per cent, from $193,000 to $420,000, between 2006 and 2019. The data also showed the average assessed value by structure in 2019 in Kamloops was $478,000 (single-family dwelling); $492,000 (dwelling with suite); $371,000 (duplex/triplex/fourplex); $293,000 (row housing); $221,000 (apartment); $113,000 (manufactured home) and $713,000 (two acres or more residential).
Meanwhile, rental vacancy last year was 2.2 per cent, which Helgason labelled “really low” and below what is considered to be healthy, which the report noted is three per cent.
International students at Thompson Rivers University are likely playing a role. The report noted enrolment of international students has increased over the past few years and students find it cheaper to live in the community than on campus. Average rent has also skyrocketed in Kamloops, increasing by 64 per cent from 2005 ($585) to 2019 ($960), triple that of inflation, which would have led to a 21 per cent increase over the same time.
As of 2016, half of all housing units in Kamloops were single-detached abodes. Housing with four or more bedrooms was the most common — 36 per cent of all housing units — and more than half of the housing was built before 1980. Trends are changing, however, with multi-family units on the rise, literally, in Kamloops in recent years. The assessment noted multi-family building permits increased by 305 per cent from 2015 to 2019. Also of interest, in June of this year, the city said 202 properties were listed on AirBNB.
Kamloops is projected to grow by 3,600 households between 2020 and 2027, with a growth rate of 0.9 per cent to 1.4 per cent. During that time, the demographics will shift and households led by 65- to 84-year-olds are anticipated to increase from 24 per cent to 29 per cent, while households led by people ages 85 and older are projected to increase from four per cent to five per cent. The city notes the “vast majority” of additional housing units required between now through 2025 will need to accommodate seniors. Over the next seven years, the city anticipates need for between 2,300 and 3,300 seniors units.
The city is hosting an online open house to get feedback on the draft housing needs assessment. The city will host a live chat on Monday, July 13, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a survey is available online. For more, go online to letstalk.kamloops.ca/housingneeds. Helgason said that the assessment will help to inform future policy.
“This leads to some recommendation as to what types of development we would like to see going forward to be able to meet the needs of the community,” he said.