She moved to the interior of British Columbia to find affordable housing. Now she lives in a motel


Two years ago, Ashlee Jessee moved from Victoria to Vernon, British Columbia, lured by the promise of more affordable housing in the interior of the province.

Now she lives in a motel room, as the housing affordability crisis spreads across the province.

Jessee, along with her partner and children, are among 14 families who were evicted in the North Okanagan and now find themselves living in one of three motels operated by Turning Point Collaborativea Vernon-based charity that helps low-income people who are in immediate need of affordable housing amid a nationwide rental crisis.

She says navigating the overheated rental market with two young children has been one of the toughest experiences of her life.

“It was honestly terrifying,” she told host Chris Walker on CBC. South Dawn. “I used to deal with housing issues all the time when I was on my own, but this was my first time dealing with it with my kids.”

“I was very afraid for them.

house rent increase

the latest census data shows that the number of private dwellings of all types has increased by 9.7% in the Greater Vernon area over the past five years, a rate slightly higher than the 9.4% increase in population during the same period.

But in a municipality that is not subject to the provincial tax on speculationvacancy in private apartments is falling rapidly: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data (CMHC) says the vacancy rate in Vernon fell from 1.9% in 2019 to 0.7% last year, pushing the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment to 1,080 $ to $1,253.

CMHC doesn’t have data for this year yet, but a search on kijiji.ca shows that a two-bedroom unit in Vernon can now cost upwards of $2,000.

The vacancy rate for private apartments in Vernon, BC has fallen rapidly. Now the monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city can exceed $2,000. (City of Vernon)

Jessee says when she arrived in February 2020, she rented a boy’s suite for just $800 and after giving birth to her first child, she and her partner moved into a two-bedroom apartment in October of that year. for $1,200 per month.

But Jessee says she had to leave because her landlord needed to return to the property. After that, she says, she couldn’t find affordable housing and turned to Turning Points Collaborative for help.

Incentive for developers to build affordable homes

Executive Director Randene Wejr says Turning Points gets four to six calls each week from families like Jessee’s looking for help.

“It’s just crazy,” she said.

Wejr says she’s worried the nonprofit won’t be able to afford to meet the increased demand, and she hopes all levels of government will urge developers to build more affordable housing.

Turning Points Collaborative executive director Randene Wejr says her organization receives calls every week from four to six families who need help finding affordable housing. (Collaborative Turning Points)

Scott Butler, CEO of Kelowna-based developer Highstreet Ventures, donated $15,000 to Turning Points Collaborative earlier this year. He says that to encourage developers to build less expensive housing, all levels of government must reduce the costs associated with building affordable housing.

“We’re also required to make a margin – you can’t go into a bank with a project you want to fund and say, ‘Listen! We’re going to do it because it’s the right thing to do, and it doesn’t make the bank or the funding worth anything,” Butler said.

Highstreet Ventures CEO Scott Butler said all levels of government must offer tax incentives to property developers to build more affordable homes. (Jan Vozenilek)

Government responsibility

Vernon County Kari Gares, who is also a mortgage broker, says the city has been working on the issue, but admits all levels of government have not moved quickly enough to address the affordability issue.

“This is a multi-faceted issue and it requires the higher levels of government to take the lead and start pouring much-needed investment funds into it to help municipalities,” she said.

Vernon County Kari Gares says all levels of government have not acted quickly enough to address the affordability crisis in the municipality. (karigares.com)

the BC Housing website shows that it has funded over 500 supportive homes for low to moderate income families in Vernon.

Housing Minister David Eby said 100,000 people moved to British Columbia from other provinces last year, and another 100,000 could come from Ukraine this year and he intends to work in working closely with municipalities to speed up the construction of houses.

“At the provincial level, we are literally investing billions of dollars in building affordable housing, but it takes time to open those doors – we have 30,000 units that are either finished or under construction right now,” he said. declared.

“I’m heartbroken for these families who are in distress… We’re going to get everyone in temporary housing into permanent housing.”

British Columbia Housing Minister David Eby said he is working closely with municipalities to provide affordable housing as the province expects tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to arrive this year. (The Canadian Press)