VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Affordable housing is being blamed for Vancouver losing some ground as a top Canadian destination for customers using U-Haul to move now that the city’s dropped from number seven to 10 in research done annually by the company.
Last year, U-Haul recorded a 29 per cent year-over-year drop in one-way traffic to Vancouver.
Local President Michelle Benson says that is mainly because housing here is just too out of reach.
“It seems that most of them are now going to Victoria because we’ve had a huge influx of equipment dropping in Victoria now than in Vancouver. On our standings, Victoria jumped up two spots where Vancouver dropped down two spots.”
She adds many people in BC are also choosing to move to Alberta.
“Now, all of a sudden, it seems like there is a lot of people kind of heading back towards the Calgary area. We have a U-box product where we ship the boxes for them and we’ve had several customers actually use that product to head off into Calgary.”
Justin Fung with Housing Action for Local Taxpayers (HALT Vancouver), a group lobbying to make housing more affordable, adds the rental market is incredibly tight.
“For one-bedroom, you’re looking at north of $2,000 a month. I think it is pretty hard for a lot of people to make ends meet here. Certainly, when we dig into numbers a little bit more, there is a demographic shift — young families with young children finding it difficult to be able to afford an appropriate space to live in.”
Benson, says there’s no doubt housing is more affordable on Vancouver Island and in Alberta.
“Huge factor. The cheapest house in Vancouver is across from one of my main locations and it was like $900,000 and change and it was like tiny, a tiny home.”
She adds U-Haul’s average customer can’t afford to pay close to $1 million for a house.
“Middle class people that are trying to save a dollar, some people making ends meet, just making ends meet actually, but I wouldn’t say it would be wealthy clients.”
Fung says this is also hurting employers trying to find workers who can afford to live in Vancouver.
“If you don’t already have your foot in the door, it’s certainly very hard to get into the housing market at this point. We are seeing the brain drain, we are seeing talent leaving the city and it’s making us a lot less competitive on numerous fronts.”
He’s also blaming real estate speculators for driving up prices.
“The cost of doing that needs to go up to discourage this kind of behaviour and I think that that’s one of the main things that has to change in Vancouver.”
HALT Vancouver also supports the new school tax on homes valued at more than $3 million.