The lack of affordable housing in Campbell River is reaching a crisis point.
City council heard last week from two women representing the local Housing First Committee how a shortage of housing, particularly rental accommodations, is hurting the community.
More people are identifying with homelessness than ever before, according to the committee, including those who hold down not one, but two jobs.
It’s a scary situation and I’m not sure what the solution is, other than to encourage developers to build more housing, and hopefully, affordable housing.
Because the market is so hot right now, homeowners who have been renting out their homes are now putting them on the market and they’re selling like hot cakes. It’s great for home owners, but it’s a problem for the tenants living in those homes.
I know of one young married couple who was recently in that very situation and now they’ve been forced to move into her parents’ home.
My own brother is in a similar situation, being forced to move back in with my mom because there’s not much available, particularly in his price range. It seems unless you have a great paying job, you’ll be having to look at moving in with roommates.
But even those with good, stable jobs are having a hard time finding housing. A friend of mine told me recently about her husband’s co-worker who has a well-paying, full-time job and after living in Campbell River for four months, had yet to find a place to live.
I’m sure these types of stories are sadly becoming not uncommon. They’re hard to hear and I can sympathize. There are things that can be done to help alleviate the problem, though. The city is looking at incentives and just last week endorsed a new plan that offers bonus housing to developers intending to build multi-family affordable housing, such as what Habitat for Humanity is currently doing on Hilchey Road. Under the proposed formula, for property zoned Residential Multi-Family 1, 2 and 3, for every five units of affordable housing built, one additional home above the maximum permitted density will be permitted by the city. Council has also in recent years been receptive to requests from Habitat for Humanity for land donations on which to build more housing.
I hope council, and the city, will continue to take stock of its land inventory and offer up as many sites as possible to get even more people into their own, affordable homes.
And I’m hopeful that homeowners, who are currently not living in their home, will consider renting out their place to someone who desperately needs a place to call their own. Perhaps instead of putting their place up on Airbnb (where there are currently hundreds of places available for expensive short-term stays) they will consider renting their home out long-term if they can.
Something has got to give, otherwise we’re going to start losing our residents and people looking to re-locate to our community are going to look elsewhere.
Right now, it would be hard to blame them.