There has been much talk in the community about the need for affordable housing and a spike in the number of renovictions taking place on the North Coast.
But some have questioned the extent and reality of the situation, calling it heresay and claiming the housing situation isn’t as dire as it seems. This week’s story on housing, however, should put any of those questions to rest.
Last year the number of cases handled by the Prince Rupert Unemployment Action Centre ballooned from 38 to 189 while the number of eviction-related cases climbed from three in 2013 to 56 in 2014. Even if the eviction of the entire Port Edward trailer park is removed from the equation, there was still a 700 per cent increase in the number of people seeking assistance to fight off evictions.
Renovictions, or evicting tenants to make improvements to the unit before putting it back on the market at a substantially higher price, are a reality. And while landlords are well within their rights to do such a thing, it is creating a major problem for low income residents.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who has been watching the rental market in Prince Rupert over the past several years. When I moved here in 2006 I was paying approximately $450 per month for a one bedroom basement suite with a complete kitchen. Today I see similar suites being rented for at least $750 per month and some landlords seeking more than $1,000 per month.
People looking for two or three bedroom basement suites may end up paying more per month than many in town are paying for their mortgages.
The demand for housing in Prince Rupert has gone up as industry turns its attention to the city and the situation is undoubtedly only going to get worse as time goes on.
There is no quick fix to this and there is no one party that can create a solution. It is going to take a concerted effort from all levels of government and those in the social service sector.
But a solution needs to come now before more people find themselves out on the streets.