By V Adams
Today, Statistics Canada released information re BC incomes between 2005 and 2015. Residents saw an increase of 12.2% in their income (and here in Victoria, an increase of 13.3%). The inflation rate grew by 18.9%. This means? Residents make less than they made a decade ago.
The median house price for Victoria in 2016 was $724,900, and with a minimum down payment of $49,490, the approximate income required to finance such a home was $111,500. (Source: http://www.moneyaftergraduation.com/2016/07/25/income-you-need-to-purchase-a-home-in-canadas-25-largest-cities/.)
The Greater Victoria region has seen a 48% increase in the value of building permits (lion’s share being residential development), between July 2016 and July 2017—five percent greater than the value of Vancouver’s building development boom over the same period.
For tenants, however, the situation tells a different story. Victoria represented 59% of the City’s households in 2011 (40% of whom paid more than a third of their monthly income on shelter costs; a quarter of them paid more than half their monthly income on rent).
By 2016, the City of Victoria had a total of 45,760 households. One-person households represented 48.4% of all households in the City. Almost half of all households are comprised of people who live alone; or, in a housing unit (bedroom/suite) not related to a census family.
Statistics Canada reported today that the median total income for all census families in Victoria CMA increased from $79,350 to $89,640 between 2011 and 2015. Median income for one-person households was $23,800 in 2011, increasing to $27,200 in 2015. However, over this time, the gap between median income of all census families and single-family households increased from $57,500 to $62,400.
A household with a median annual income of $89,640 could easily find a rental unit or finance a condo in Victoria for $2,241 per month (equivalent to 30% of their annual income, the affordable housing threshold rate). With a rental market vacancy rate near zero, there is precious little housing available for a one-person household with an annual median income of $27,200; 30% of this income would be $680 per month, a short-fall of $420 for what is listed as the median rent ($1,100) for a one-bedroom unit in this City in August (Source: Padmapper Rental Report). Clearly, there’s no way someone on minimum wage working a 40-hour week will find an affordable rental unit in this City. (See Focus Online: http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/julyaugust-2017/take-down-a-parking-lot-and-put-up-a-paradise-r15/)
Note: According to the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program, the maximum rent ceiling for a single person living outside Vancouver is $667. The renters’ program reimburses between 90% and 35% of the Rent Gap (which is the difference between 30% of total income and an adjusted rent). The monthly benefit varies between a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $435. Modest-income City tenants living alone can’t count on government supplements to put an affordable roof over their heads.
Despite the City’s pledge to build inclusive affordable places to live, the numbers don’t reflect a glowing picture of a healthy and economically viable City for all residents.