Vacancy rate going up in Victoria but wont likely help those in lower income bracket


WATCH: Victoria’s vacancy rate officially hit over the 1 per cent mark and while that may sound like relief is on its way for those looking for places to rent a new housing report shows most of the movement is at the high end of the scale meaning the increased vacancy rate likely mean nothing to those most in need. Luisa Alvarez reports.

It’s just Dennis Nichols and his dog Cuddles.

“She’s all I’ve got left,” says Nichols.

But they are living out of his car, Nichols turning it on every hour to heat up and keep warm at night.

Nichols is on a fixed income and the lack of affordable rental housing leaves him with no other choice. His wife died two and a half years ago and he’s had a slew of health issues including cancer, and heart disease that have left him unable to work.

“All I want is to have a place where I can actually hang my hat and where I can have my dog and have her live out the rest of her life and where I can live out the rest of my life,” said Nichols.

Despite vacancy rates rising in Victoria from 0.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent this year, there is little relief in sight for Dennis.

The new units coming onto the market including purpose-built rentals are almost all far above his price range.

A senior analyst with CHMC (Canada Housing and Market Corp.) Braden Batch says most of the new stock in the market are higher end.

“There is more available at the higher price ranges than in the past, that has helped to raise that vacancy rate,” said Batch.

And the trend is only expected to continue says Batch with demand outweighing supply for the foreseeable future.

Making it more and more expensive to enter the rental market in Victoria.

According to the CHMC rental market report, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment last year was $1,076 a month, this year its up 7.5 per cent to $1,170.

“People that have been there for some time will be paying much lower monthly rents than people who are just coming into the market now,” said Batch.

The province is committed to building nearly 4,900 units of affordable housing, including 1,274 homes on Vancouver Island.

It’s the first stage in a seven-billion-dollar housing strategy, but they won’t be ready for at least a few years. Time Nichols doesn’t think he has.

“I’ll be dead by then,” said Nichols “I wish there was something I could bloody well do just to get a place for her and I that’s all that I want.”

For now, he is left in limbo without a home to call his own and sadly in this housing crisis his story is just one of many.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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