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Zero truly affordable rentals in Vancouver, says economic report

Last Updated Jul 18, 2019 at 10:22 am PDT


Zero neighbourhoods in Vancouver are considered affordable for low income earners

Vancouver is the most expensive city in the country for renters

Surrey's Guilford and Whalley neighbourhoods among most affordable for renters

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Renting in Vancouver is unaffordable for anyone earning less than $26.72 per hour, according to new number crunching, making the city the least affordable in the country for non-home owners.

A person earning minimum wage would need to work 84 hours each week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver, or 112 hours a week for a two-bedroom according to data compiled by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Senior economist with the CCPA and author of the report, David MacDonald, believes more purpose-built rental housing is needed immediately.

“The challenge, of course, is because we haven’t really been building purpose-built rental or traditional apartment buildings since the 1990s, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” he says.

There’s about a $23 gap between minimum wage and the income needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, and a $14 wage gap for those looking to get into a one-bedroom.

The report uses data from the October 2018 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporations and compares it to regional minimum wages to determine the income needed to afford one- and two-bedroom rentals.

Rental rates were calculated for 795 Canadian neighbourhoods, then compared to minimum wages across the country to determine how much a person would need to earn to spend no more than 30 per cent of their wages on shelter.

The results show that renting is unaffordable across the country; 23 of the 36 cities examined contain zero per cent rental stock that’s affordable for those earning anywhere near minimum wage.

Nationally, a wage of $22.40/hr is needed to be able to afford an average-priced two-bedroom apartment.

The CCPA points out 4.7 million Canadians rent — they are mostly young adults, senior citizens and newcomers to Canada.

“Many households rely on only one income but contain more than one person — single-parent families, for example, or an adult caring for a senior,” the report reads.

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“A sole income earner working full time should be able to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment for their family in a country as rich as Canada. But in most Canadian cities, including Canada’s largest metropolitan areas of Toronto and Vancouver, there are no neighbourhoods where it is possible to afford a one- or two-bedroom unit on a single minimum wage.”

Across the entire country, only nine per cent of the 795 neighbourhoods clocked in as affordable for those groups.

The most affordable regions were mostly in Quebec. In the Lower Mainland, affordable neighbourhoods include all of Maple Ridge and Surrey’s Guilford and Whalley areas.

-With files from Adam Cooper