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Rising Winnipeg rents pricing many families out, Social Planning Council says

Click to play video: 'Calls for affordable housing in Winnipeg amid rising rent costs'
Calls for affordable housing in Winnipeg amid rising rent costs
WATCH: "When rent goes up, other things become much less affordable." Rental site Zumper pegs rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg as being up by 10 per cent in 2022 – Jul 18, 2022

An increasing number of Manitoba families are struggling with difficult choices when it comes to paying for housing.

The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg said Monday there are close to 50,000 families in the province who are consistently facing affordability pressures.

Read more: Homeowners pressed by rising interest rates still have options, shouldn’t panic: experts

A study released last week by rental platform Zumper lists Winnipeg as one of 18 large metro areas in Canada that has seen a month-over-month increase in rental costs, with rent on the median one-bedroom apartment at $1,100 and a two-bedroom at $1,380.

While Winnipeg is nowhere near the prices at the top of the list — like Vancouver at $2,300 for a one-bedroom — many of those 50,000 families here are still in need of help.

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“They’re living in housing that costs more than 30 per cent of their income, and the majority of those families are in the renter’s market,” the Social Planning Council’s Josh Brandon told Global News.

“Rents are going up in spite of a freeze on rents in the early months of the pandemic… and landlords find ways to increase rents and get around those restrictions.”

Read more: City explores regulations for short-term rentals, asking Winnipeggers for feedback

Brandon said he’d like to see more rules around landlords and companies buying up units with the purpose of turning them into short-term rentals.

“Units being taken up by Airbnbs… it’s a lot more profitable if you can just rent it on weekends to tourists than to rent it to a family and work with that family month-to-month and provide good quality housing,” he said.

“So that takes a lot of the affordable housing out of the housing stock as well, and so we need to have regulations.”

Click to play video: 'Average rent prices up in Winnipeg, but still affordable compared to rest of Canada'
Average rent prices up in Winnipeg, but still affordable compared to rest of Canada

Brandon said there also needs to be a closer watch over units that get government subsidies … but still get rented at an unaffordable price.

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“If you’re lucky enough to find something affordable, you’re going to hold on to it,” he said.

“Very often when units do become available, it’s because the landlords are doing renovations or doing other measures that raise the cost of the housing, so that the new units that come online are going to be much more expensive than the average.”

Read more: Big city mayors say they are facing housing affordability challenges

According to Zumper’s Canadian Rent Report, most markets have already hit or surpassed pre-pandemic rent prices.

“(This) shows that the mounting demand for rentals has not been met with enough supply in many markets,” the study said.

“With employment rates staying strong and rising interest rates, competition for rentals will only continue to grow, furthering the trend of rising prices, especially as we get deeper into the summer moving season.”

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