A city councillor has seen firsthand the difficulty in securing rental accommodations in Kamloops, particularly for those with furry companions.
Dale Bass told KTW her son and financee have been looking for rental accommodations that allow a pet and have fallen short of finding something within their budget.
“Try to find a place that isn’t a thousand dollars,” Bass said. “You just can’t. I think that their situation is fairly typical of young adults right now who are working for minimum wage. They might be working two part-time jobs. They might be working three part-time jobs, but it’s very difficult. More challenging for my son is they have a very small dog. Nobody wants pets.”
The city’s acting social development supervisor, Ty Helgason, presented a housing needs report to city council on Tuesday. Among key issues identified was a lack of affordable rental accommodations. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the city’s median rent increased by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2019, from $585 to $960, triple that of inflation, which was 21 per cent.
The largest rent increase was seen for one-bedroom units, which rose by 71 per cent between 2005 and 2019.
Rental vacancy last year was 2.2 per cent, below what is deemed a health vacancy rate of three per cent, and websites promoting available rental accommodations are littered with wanted ads, posted by tenants seeking places to rent.
“I am looking to move down to Kamloops for Oct. 1 with my friend, boyfriend and I. We are looking for a two-bedroom place. We have two bunnies. We all have good credit and references,” one recent renter on the hunt posted on Kijiji.
“I am a single father, have daughter part time,” another post stated. “Doing studies, will have money for rent and damage deposit. Take my friendly dog out for walks. Want to move closer to town.”
One issue identified was Thompson Rivers University students occupying affordable housing due to student rental housing prices being too high. In addition, some local homeowners have taken potential rental accommodations off the market to rent on short-term rental websites, such as AirBNB. About 200 short-term rental properties were identified in the report.
Bass said housing for seniors and the homeless has been added in Kamloops, but noted gaps remain for young people trying to enter the market.
“We’ve got this whole generation of young people who are struggling to make it and a lot of them can’t afford $900 to $1,100 for a one-room suite,” Bass said. “Some of the places we looked at are $800 just for a bedroom. Rent has gone up exponentially, compared to the cost of living.”
Rental units are being built more quickly as of late in Kamloops, but the consultant who conducted the housing needs assessment for the city anticipates significant need over the next two decades.
Meanwhile, renters who do find accommodations that fit within their budget face an uphill battle in taking the next step. Home ownership affordability has also deteriorated in recent years, with prices having increased by 118 per cent from 2006 to 2019.
“I know I’m not the only mom who is dealing with this situation with my kids,” Bass said.