House prices in the Cowichan Valley have skyrocketed in recent years. (Citizen file)

House prices in the Cowichan Valley have skyrocketed in recent years. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Affordable housing No. 1 priority

One of the biggest worries people are facing is the cost of a roof over their heads

One of the biggest things on people’s minds in 2022 was affordability.

It’s a theme that is following residents into 2023, and there’s no certainty about which way the pendulum will swing in the year ahead, though most prognosticators aren’t forecasting an end to the pain any time soon.

One of the biggest worries people are facing is the cost of a roof over their heads.

While the pandemic has seen home prices skyrocket since 2020, the unaffordability seemed to peak in the summer of 2022.

In January Cowichan Valley residents were faced with home assessments, which have an impact on how much people pay in taxes, that had leaped an incredible 35 to 52 per cent. To put that into some kind of perspective, many were already not thrilled with 2021’s jump of five to 10 per cent on average. Homes everywhere in Cowichan soared over the $1 million mark.

For the first half of the year real estate prices followed suit, with bidding wars driving prices up to levels unheard of in our rural communities. Suddenly, fixer-uppers were more than $500,000 before a single renovation was done. And at that, buyers felt lucky if they could secure four walls and a roof for half a million.

While prices did start to stabilize, then fall as we moved into the second half of 2022, the cost of buying a home remains wildly out of reach for many.

As a result, many people are looking to rent. But this is not an affordable option either. Many rents for modest accommodations are now more than $1,000 per month, with many larger places going for between $2,000 and $3,000 per month — even in Cowichan. The national average rent rose to a record $2,024 in November. That is a huge chunk of people’s salaries.

Add to that rising costs for groceries, gas etc., and a lot of people are struggling. We’ve never seen so many people living in motorhomes in parks, parking lots, other people’s driveways and on the street. People without motorhomes are sleeping in cars. And they’re the lucky ones.

Genuinely affordable (not $600,000-plus) housing must be a priority for our local, provincial and federal governments in the year ahead.

Editorials

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