Kelowna’s housing needs are significant and wide ranging, city council will be told today.
A Housing Needs Assessment prepared by City staffer Michelle Kam will offer some insights into the current market and how it may be affecting area residents.
“Housing is in the midst of a boom cycle, and while some residents may be benefiting from this, others are feeling squeezed out of a tight market, and are becoming housing vulnerable,” reads the report. “The impacts of this are seen in many ways in Kelowna, including the increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness, the extremely low rental vacancy rate, and rapidly increasing home prices.”
Hundreds of communities, nationally and internationally, are struggling to find solutions to similar problems. Before the city can determine appropriate solutions, wrote Kam, it needs to understand the scope of the problem.
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“The Housing Needs Assessment purpose is to identify the housing requirements in Kelowna based on housing supply, demand, and estimates of future trends in the near and distant future 20 years and provide direction for how the City and various community stakeholders can contribute progressive actions to meet a desired future state,” Kam wrote. “This knowledge will then contribute to the development of robust and appropriate actions that will seek to have real, measurable and positive impacts on our housing challenges in both the Journey Home and Healthy Housing Strategies.”
The City has carried out this needs assessment through statistical analysis, consultation with stakeholders, other levels of governments, housing partners and through interviews with Kelowna residents that have experienced homelessness.
Among other things, the study highlighted affordability and access as significant issues.
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Kelowna has been ranked amongst the least affordable cities in Canada for housing in the Demographia Housing Affordability Survey.
“For some in our community, accessing or maintaining healthy housing is a daily struggle,” reads the report. “With a vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent and escalating prices, the effects of a constrained rental market are evident across our community, particularly for those residents most vulnerable. Ensuring Kelowna continues to grow as a healthy community for all requires strategic direction and response to current and future housing needs.”
The Housing Needs Assessment is the first City-conducted publication of this level of housing analysis, utilizing Statistics Canada census data, BC Stats data,Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation data, Interior Health, BC Housing, real estate information, development statistics and population projections from city of Kelownadata sources, and others.
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It also includes comparator municipalities of Boulder, Colorado, Kingston, ON, Nanaimo, BC, and Santa Rosa, California to provide context to other progressive, comparable cities. Importantly, this report answers the question of who is vulnerable in their housing needs, and gives us some indication of what types of housing options should be explored.
This HNA will inform the setting of goals as it relates to the future delivery of the number, type and tenure of housing units across the city of Kelowna. This report has been prepared primarily for City of Kelowna staff working on the Journey Home and Healthy Housing Strategies, but it will have impact and influence on other activities such as the 2040 OCP update and external organizations that have a mandate to deliver housing and related programs in our community.
Council was asked to staff to advance engagement and strategy development on the 9 Journey Home and 11 Healthy Housing recommendations as identified in the Housing Needs Assessment for the purposes of developing the Journey Home and Healthy Housing Strategies, respectively.
They were also asked to transfer $14,700 from the Research & Partnership budget to the Healthy Housing budget in order to complete the project.
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