There have been a number of alarming reports published in the past month about rental housing, and they’re not telling us anything good. Rentals.ca, in their January Rent Report, showed that rents across Canada had increased 12% since 2021, and that’s much higher for some municipalities (e.g. 32% for Kitchener). February showed a 10.7% increase over the 12-month period, with the highest increases in Kitchener (28.2%) and Burnaby (32.7%).
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation published its 2022 Rental Housing Report a few weeks back, again showing tight rental vacancy rates in many of our Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). While there is significant geographic variation, their report highlights how little housing there is in municipalities for people in the lowest income deciles (e.g. people with the lowest 20% of incomes). This is despite very strong levels of rental housing production–even record levels, as in the case of Vancouver. We can’t built it fast enough to meet the increased demand we’re seeing for rental housing.
And finally, ScotiaBank published a very brief report calling for the doubling of social housing stock (through buying, renovating, as well as building new units) to meet the need for affordable housing, noting, “The recent uptick in housing starts is welcome but not enough to restore affordability.”
Among the factors all three reports cited for the “current crisis” are the restoration of immigration which has allowed people to finally settle in the country post-COVID-19, returning students post-pandemic, and the high interest rates which are keeping people in rental units who would normally be buying housing. But we all know the crisis stretches back to the mid-1980s, right?
Check out this week’s episode of CBC Marketplace (“Behind Closed Doors”, February 24, 2023) for more on rental housing.