Nearly half of Okanagan renter households are spending more than the recommended 30 per cent of their income on housing.
That is according to new Statistics Canada data compiled by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
“Traditionally, spending 30 per cent or less of household income on rent has been viewed as the benchmark of what is considered affordable,” said Jill Atkey, Acting CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
“However, the data shows that spending more than 30 per cent of income on housing has become the new normal for individuals and families in almost all areas of Canada.”
The Canadian Rental Housing Index shows 47 per cent of Kelowna households spent over 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities. That’s compared to 49 per cent in Penticton and 50 per cent in Vernon.
It exceeds the British Columbia average of 43 per cent.
WATCH BELOW: Rent affordability challenges now being felt in small communities
The data also shows Kelowna’s average income is $55,310. Penticton’s is $47,504 and Vernon’s is $47,177.
Rent in the Okanagan is most expensive in Kelowna with the average rent and utilities topping $1,173/month. The average rent in Penticton is just shy of that at $1,035, compared to Vernon at $996.
The average monthly cost of rent and utilities in B.C. is $1,148.
The Association says one of the drivers of the affordability challenges is the increase in the number of Canadians in the rental market.
Between 2011 and 2016, nearly 400,000 new renter households were added for a total of more than 4.4 million or 32 per cent of all households in Canada.
“With escalating prices keeping many Canadians from affording home ownership, as well as a lack of affordable rental housing supply, more people are entering the rental market or staying in the rental market longer,” said Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.
“This marks the first time in a generation that the rate of Canadian renters has outpaced the number of Canadians buying a home, and speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing.”