B.C. rent affordability an increasing problem as Canada’s national vacancy rate declines


Canada’s national rental vacancy rate declined for a second consecutive year in 2023, leaving the vacancy at a new low of 1.5 per cent, down from three per cent in 2020 and 2021.

The report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC), showed supply was unable to keep up with demand in major markets across the country.

In Vancouver, the report found that rental demand was driven by record immigration and decreases in homeownership affordability.

In Victoria, the rate is close to the national average of 1.6 per cent.

In Vancouver, it is less than 1 per cent where the average cost of rent for a two-bedroom purpose-built rental is now $2,181 a month.

The B.C. government announced Wednesday that it is providing additional funding to the BC Rent Bank for renters with low to moderate incomes who need financial support.

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Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the government is investing almost $11 million in the bank, which could support as many as 20,000 renters, depending on the need.

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“We know that people are feeling the impacts of high rents and inflation, and that’s making it hard for them pay their bills and rent,” Kahlon said.

“When people are faced with an unanticipated financial challenge, BC Rent Bank is there to help stabilize them. For many people in B.C., this funding can mean the difference between having a safe home or losing it.”

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The Rent Bank is a program that provides renters with an interest-free loan when they are having a difficult time paying bills and rent.

Last year, about 1,100 households across the province relied on the program.

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“Our government has taken strong actions to build increased renter protections and supports throughout the province,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, the premier’s liaison for renters and MLA for Vancouver West End.

“This new funding will provide ease and peace of mind for people facing housing disruption due to growing economic demands across various aspects of their lives.”

The interest-free loans from the Rent Bank can be applied to rent or essential utilities, or toward a deposit or first month’s rent.

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