(Courtesy photo)

Kelowna rental housing demand higher than supply: report

‘Overall, there are not enough affordable rental units being provided to serve residents with lower incomes’

Demand for rental housing continues to outpace supply in Kelowna.

Kelowna’s 2020 annual housing report highlights trends in the city during the pandemic-disturbed year. It shows the resilient local economy ended the year with more jobs than it started despite the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, this caused local housing prices and rental rates to boom, putting more pressure on the city’s need for more affordable and subsidized housing.

“Overall, there are not enough affordable rental units being provided to serve residents with lower incomes,” Arlene Janousek told council as she presented the report on Monday, March 15.

The report also noted a decrease in “housing mobility,” which is the ability to move from one type of housing to another — such as from rental to ownership or subsidized rental to market rental. This is exacerbated by rising home prices and falling rental vacancies.

In 2020, the rental vacancy rate fell to 2.1 per cent from 2019’s 2.7 per cent, despite much of the city’s post-secondary student population not being present through most of 2020. Coun. Gail Given said that number needs to increase by the fall when students could return to in-person classes.

“There are lots of people coming here,” she said.

Despite a lacking rental stock, city policy planning manager Ross Soward said Kelowna’s strong economy made it something of a “landing pad” for people struggling to find work in other Canadian provinces. He said the city experienced strong interprovincial migration through 2020 and remained one of Canada’s fastest-growing areas.

Demand for ground-oriented housing — townhomes and single-family homes — increased in the city more than in previous years. Soward said this could be attributed to people seeking more space as they spent more time at home through 2020. However, apartment sales still earned the highest market share, accounting for around 35 per cent of total sales.

Around 85 per cent of currently planned and under construction developments are set to be multi-family.

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Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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