British Columbia is a province where housing costs are high.
We’ve all heard a lot lately about the price of buying real estate in an increasingly hot market.
But affordability issues don’t just affect home buyers, they affect those trying to rent as well.
As property prices have gone up, so has rent.
This includes the cost of accommodation paid by those struggling to make ends meet at the bottom of the rental market.
Often these folks are on income assistance, are underemployed or work for low wages.
While costs are not as enormous as for folks living in the greater Vancouver area, the Cowichan Valley has not escaped the affordable housing crunch.
In today’s front page Citizen article by Robert Barron officials from Warmland House, the Cowichan Valley’s homeless shelter, report that they’re full to capacity in their 30 emergency beds.
Ten people are getting turned away every night.
And this is in the middle of summer when a number of people choose to sleep outside, with or without a tent.
When winter closes in one can only envision things getting even more desperate as sleeping outdoors becomes less of a viable option.
Assistant manager Sandi Doerksen quotes $800 per month as a typical figure for rent.
Clearly, someone getting $375 per month from social assistance for housing can’t even hope to afford such a thing.
Even two people together can’t afford it.
Consider someone making minimum wage.
That’s more than half their monthly income, just on rent, if they’re working the full 40 hours per week.
It doesn’t add up.
Sadly, it’s known that this is one of the reasons why people end up staying in abusive or otherwise unhealthy situations — they simply can’t afford to leave.
That’s why it’s so important that the Municipality of North Cowichan is seriously investigating a partnership that would see some affordable housing built in the Valley.
Clearly it’s needed and will easily fill to full occupation.
Regular developers who need to make their money back, plus profit, are not going to invest in affordable housing.
A non-profit, on municipally owned land that can be leased inexpensively, is an excellent way to get something going, finally.