Prince Edward County housing crisis leaves locals with few options

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PEC Housing Shortage
WATCH: A Picton local shares his struggle to find permanent, affordable housing as the housing crisis in Prince Edward County rages on – Jul 30, 2021

Housing is becoming increasingly scarce in Prince Edward County as more properties are turned into short-term rentals.

“We already have our own family, but to move to that next step in the next five years, it just doesn’t seem possible,” says 32-year-old Caleb Hutton.

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Hutton lives with his wife and three children in the basement of his parents’ home here in Picton.

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The father of three owns a home recording studio and says business was booming. But once the pandemic hit, his goal of owning property became out of reach.

“With all of the pricing going up to 75 per cent higher, it got to a point where we weren’t available to purchase anything,” says Hutton.

Not only is it difficult to own affordable property, Hutton says renting a space with enough bedrooms for all of his children is near impossible.

He says that property management companies have been buying out spaces to turn them into Airbnbs for tourists, causing bidding wars for properties where he can’t compete.

“It’s getting to a point that there should be no more short-term rentals allowed in Prince Edward County for ‘x’ amount of years, until we get enough housing for everybody,” Hutton states.

Chuck Dowdall, executive director of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, says the county is in a crisis situation that is affecting every aspect of the region’s economy.

“You’re looking at average house prices now in the county, $900,000 for the average price of a home,” says Dowdall.

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As bad as that sounds, Dowdall says that the bigger pressure point is on affordable rental units.

The average market rent for a one-bedroom going in the region renting is at about $1,400 per month and a three-bedroom, which people like Hutton are looking for, is priced anywhere from $2,500 to $3,200 per month.

“[Housing pricing] is so negatively impacting our employment centre, retail, hospitality,” says Dowdall. “For example, hospital staff: if they’re making $20 an hour, which by county standards is a good wage, they can’t afford to live in the county.”

Dowdall says his organization is working to inject immediate affordable housing in the area, and while the municipality works to resolve the issue, residents eagerly await relief.

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