Despite efforts by City staff and Council, the strong demand for housing in Kelowna is expected to continue.
This was one of the findings of the 2021 Annual Housing Report (AHR) presented to council on Monday 25 April.
“Staff will continue to work on existing initiatives and plan new initiatives to help provide more housing options in our community,” said Arlene Janousek, Urban Planner.
Demographic and economic growth, as well as low interest rates, are helping to maintain strong demand.
“Kelowna remains a great place to live with strong demand for housing, and that demand has been reflected in home prices and rental rate increases in 2021,” Janousek added.
The report says home ownership was increasingly out of reach last year, with record home sales and a sharp rise in median home prices. The median multiple, a measure of affordability comparing home prices to income, hit a 10-year high. Subsidized rentals took a hit in 2021 with just 88 new homes occupied, down from around 150 in 2020.
“This could be due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the construction industry,” Janousek said. “The decrease may be temporary as there are approximately 440 subsidized rental housing units at various stages of the development application process.”
It was also difficult in the rental sector of the market. Last year, the vacancy rate was the lowest since 2017, at 0.6%, and rental rates overall increased by 4.8%, indicating that demand for rental accommodation is higher than what’s currently available, Janousek said. The city added 717 new market rental units last year, with another 3,300 on the way. Rental rates have fallen from an average of $976 in 2016 to $1,315 in 2021.
Councilor Luke Stack praised staff for prompting and encouraging the expansion of rental accommodation, but had concerns.
“Beyond numbers I could ever imagine,” Stack said. “But at the same time, we have seen the price of rental housing rise so rapidly that it actually puts more and more citizens in a situation where they need help with rental housing. This unfortunately eats away at our success.
Regarding the need for and support for emergency housing, Janousek said work continues under the city’s Journey Home strategy.
“However, anecdotal evidence tells us that a significant number of people have been housed in Kelowna, but the number of homeless people who are homeless appears to be on the rise. While the demand for supportive housing is difficult to quantify, there is an urgent need for people with complex and overlapping health conditions, as well as the city’s aging population.
Looking to the future, Janousek added that the housing mix coming online is more geared towards multi-family development than what has been seen historically in Kelowna.
“Around 3,000 building permits were issued in 2021,” she said. “About 60% of them were for apartments, which are generally more affordable than individual accommodation. We can expect these units to be online within one to three years. »
Affordable HousingCity CouncilCity of KelownaHousingRental MarketRentalsSeniors Housing