With one-bedroom rentals hovering around the $1,200 mark, and the price of a family home more than $600,000 in the Central Okanagan, residents are exploring other options to get into the housing market.
Mike Bois is a resident of Lake Country and decided to visit an information session on a new Lake Country Habitat for Housing complex, which received a development permit from council in January for 10618 Powley Court.
“Considering where I grew up, it’s a lot more expensive here. I came out here for a job in the field I was able to find and it seems like every year rent just keeps going up,” Bois said.
“Just moving from place to place for the past six years, rent for a one-bedroom place has close to doubled.”
He’s been living in the Central Okanagan for the past nine years. In 2010, a one-bedroom apartment rental was priced below $800 a month. Right now he’s paying $1,500 for a one bedroom in Lake Country without utilities.
Bois said the requirements to own a unit is doable for him, as he works seasonally with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks as an athletic therapist. Part of the non-profit’s homeownership requirements is for residents to reach 500 volunteer hours in exchange for a home priced at market value, with no down payment requirement or interest.
Bois and his wife have been looking at other places outside of Habitat for Humanity, and have been trying to save up for a down payment, even for a one bedroom, but saw the three-bedroom townhomes that were being offered as an opportunity.
“Especially if you’re looking at homes in the Okanagan, you need a quite significant down payment on how much you make and what type of mortgage you qualify for,” Bois said.
He commutes to Salmon Arm, and his wife works in Kelowna.
“I think it’s great. I think we’re going to apply for it, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
The pair are also expecting their first child.
Rutland resident Tamara Faitala has been living in a Habitat for Humanity Home for the last two years. She addressed a crowd of roughly 150 people during the information session, held Saturday at George Elliot Secondary.
A single mother of three, Faitala, was living in low-income housing and feared for her children’s safety while living in a neighbourhood where the police patrolled the streets every night.
Now, living in a Habitat for Humanity home, she feels safe having friends over and her children are able to go outside, she said.
To qualify for a home, annual household income must be between $47,000 and $62,500.
Single parent families can volunteer for 40 per cent of their 500 hours, and get help from relatives or family for the rest. Two-parent families must do 60 per cent of their hours without help.
Residents must also fit the requirement that they’ve been living in the Okanagan for two years.
The tentative plan is to have people moving by this time next year, said Neil Smith, chief operations officer with the non-profit.
For more information visit https://www.habitatforhumanityokanagan.ca.