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: Priced out of the market: affordability crisis

Since when is $600,000 not enough to buy a property in the Duncan area?

How bad is the affordability crisis in the Cowichan Valley?

So bad that a shelter for women has been priced out of the market, in spite of having $600,000 to put towards the purchase of a permanent location.

Since when is $600,000 not enough to buy a property in the Duncan area?

Now, as Cowichan Women Against Violence has found out in recent months.

Their experience is backed up by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s numbers about properties for sale and those that have sold, which they release monthly.

Their report indicates that in February, the number of properties that went on the market was relatively small, driving the benchmark price for a single family home in the Cowichan Valley to a whopping $804,300. While this doesn’t mean that there are not properties for sale for less than this, it certainly gives a good indication of where home prices stand in Cowichan — which is sky high.

This is entirely out of reach for a great many people, even with the longest possible mortgage. Including CWAV and its Charlotte’s Place low-barrier shelter.

“The irony of a non-profit that addresses homelessness getting priced out due to a soaring housing market is not lost on me,” said CWAV’s executive director, Jan Bate. “Even with extensive fundraising and community support, we have not yet found an affordable property that meets our needs as a shelter provider.”

CWAV has hit a time crunch, with a large part of their $600,000 coming through two grants that have a time limit set on them. Should they be unable to find something by March 31, they risk losing six figures of that money, which would leave them having to start the fundraising process all over again.

And this at a time when more and more people are experiencing homelessness because of the enormous cost of housing, both buying and renting.

Clearly we need more housing to be built, and a significant portion of it needs to be of the affordable variety. For this to happen government will have to intervene. The market alone is not providing this necessary infrastructure, nor will it, as profit rules the private sector. So either through regulation (requiring developers to build a portion of their projects as affordable — and we mean truly affordable, not $600,000) or taking on actual building projects themselves, our governments must step in. We can’t afford for them not to.

Editorials