Almost half of B.C. renters are spending more than the recommended 30 per cent of their income on housing.
That’s despite B.C. residents earning roughly $5,000 more in average yearly income than the rest of Canada, according to the latest numbers on the nation’s rental housing index, released Tuesday by the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association.
The information comes from the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index, a database of rental housing statistics based on the latest census data from Statistics Canada.
“Traditionally, spending 30 per cent or less of household income on rent has been viewed as the benchmark of what is considered affordable,” Jill Atkey, the association’s acting CEO said in a news release.
With B.C.’s average annual income sitting at $58,698, the data say 43 per cent of the province’s 590,000 renters are spending the 30-per-cent benchmark on rent and utilities per year – about $17,500. A further 21 per cent are shelling out more than 50 per cent.
“This marks the first time in a generation that the rate of Canadian renters has outpaced the number of Canadians buying a home, and speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing,” said Jeff Morrison, executive director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.
The only province to see more of a rental squeeze is Ontario, where 46 per cent of renters are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities. There, the average income is closer to the nation’s average at $53,691 per year.
B.C. renters balance income, rental rate, overcrowding
The high rent in B.C. is forcing 10 per cent of renters to live in overcrowded conditions, the data shows – calculated by the number of residents in one dwelling with considerations of their age and gender.
“With escalating prices keeping many Canadians from affording home ownership, as well as a lack of affordable rental housing supply, more people are entering the rental market or staying in the rental market longer,” Morrison said.
Within B.C., Vancouverites – to no surprise – are spending the most on rent and utilities, with the average monthly rent of $1,295 – about $150 more per month than the provincial average.
They may earn more – about $65,549 per year on average – but they are also spending 24 per cent of their income on rent, one percentage point more than the average.
That still leaves 44 per cent of renters shelling out more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.
In the Fraser Valley, where the average rent is $975 a month, 42 per cent of renters are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities. But in Abbotsford, 12 per cent are living in overcrowded conditions.
Then there are the cities where income isn’t keeping up to rent, causing more residents to spend a greater portion of their income on it.
In Victoria, the average monthly rent is about $1,053. But the average salary is $7,000 less than the provincial average, 46 per cent are putting than 30 per cent of their income towards housing. A further 22 per cent are spending more than 50 per cent of their earnings on rent.
In the Okanagan, where there’s no shortage of larger rental units, only five per cent of renters are dealing with overcrowded conditions. However, 47 per cent of renters still pay more than the 30-per-cent benchmark.
The average renter there spends 25 per cent of their yearly income on rent and utilities.
B.C.’s north and the Kootenays could be the “promised land.”
Rent and utilities in the Cariboo costs about $782 per month on average. More than half of its renters spend less than the benchmark of their income on housing.
In the Kitimat-Stikine region, renters are spending about 18 per cent of their income on rent, which is an average of $919 per month.
Meanwhile, the Bulkley-Nechako region holds the most ideal condition: $811 per month, with 59 per cent of renters spending less than 30 per cent of their income on rent, and earning $1,000 more per year than the provincial average.