Where's Canada's worst housing crisis?

The Big Story


Wrote on P. is rental market not the type of thing You think about all that often Being out here in Toronto whether you're Vancouver Montreal but it's a It's a a pretty wild place I would say so. Tell me about even just one of the typical kind of stories. You hear from renters right so I've heard quite a bit from families out in Pi and they've been having a ton of trouble for years now. it's a really tight rental market not a lot of spaces particularly larger spaces. If you need three bedrooms. Let's say and they they really just can't find very much at all So UC on facebook all the time families pleading for any sort of tips on vacant units. They find themselves weeks away from Homelessness Day call apartment buildings month after month looking for something and invariably they hear that there's just nothing available. Can he give me some context Just in terms of how tough is it there. In terms of vacancy rate and and how difficult it is to get into these places to have numbers. Yeah absolutely so. If view all the way back to two thousand thirteen the apartment vacancy rate was about seven percent. That's pretty high. It's you know the type of rate where if you need you to place your there's GonNa be some options for you fast. Forward five years to two thousand eighteen zero point three percent so like nothing pretty much nothing yes and The there was literally nothing for three bedroom. Pi's at small enough place that you can count the vacant units quickly so circa twenty eighteen gene Given all the apartments that they have that means they're eighteen available apartments on the whole island so things improved a little bit in two thousand nineteen up to one point two percent vacancy but still the lowest on a provincial basis. It's still a really tight market. There's not a lot available. I mean the thing that really really grabbed me about this is that those are numbers worse than or even maybe now on par with you know the numbers we hear out of Toronto and Vancouver where these are the biggest biggest housing crisis in Canada. And how do people react. I mean you're based in Toronto when you put together a piece explained that no actually. The worst housing crisis in Canada is out east in Cranston Rhode Island. I think it's mostly surprise. You know when when you're based out in these cities you you tend to think you know this is where everyone wants to live in Candida. Therefore there's a ton of competition but in fact I mean there's there's a lot that's going on beneath the surface in. Pi Driving this when people hear about it from year here. We just think it's a place where you go on vacation or something but you know there's a lot of people living and working there and it's it's really tough and people they don't don't realize it mostly what are those underlying things that are driving The scarcity of rental units one big thing is population growth Pi. Okay I has grown a tremendous amount over the past say four or five years on top of that. There's just not been a lot of apartments built. I mean Pe- I compared with say here in Toronto where we're sitting Real estate market is You know prices are a little more modest. Let's say so you know years ago you'd have a lot of options for detached housing under one hundred and fifty thousand dollars Yes so you know developers is there there. They weren't really building apartment. Because you know someone with a middle class. Income Housing was pretty affordable for for ownership right. So that makes sense but then you get years. I'm not really building apartments. An influx of a ton of people and home prices have gone up quite a bit you know for a detached housing. Typical detached housing went up forty percent over over the past year. So now what used to be. Affordable isn't for a lot of people they need to rent and they haven't been building rentals so start with the first problem And I guess it's a really good problem for a place like P I have. Where did the growth in population come from right so The previous liberal government. They're made population growth with a key part of their economic plan. And really. That's that's a good thing right. You know when you're looking at any of the Atlantic provinces. They're really old. They need to get younger. They I need people. In a place like newfoundland their populations decreasing They desperately need people pe- I saw this and they said we got a ramp up these numbers so they started bringing in a lot of people that are entrepreneurship programs to bring in people from outside of Canada the trying to lure native islanders back to Pi. He is well so you know the numbers sound almost kind of funny over the past four years. Pi's population has increased by thirteen. Eighteen thousand. So that's just a fraction of what you would get in a given year and say the GTE shortly but thirteen thousand. That's nine percent increase over four years. That's nearly double the national rate of growth the highest growth of of any province over that spin so thirteen thousand is a big deal on an island of you know give or take a hundred and fifty thousand sure. That's a rough equivalent of that in Toronto would be what like three hundred three hundred fifty thousand people that span yet. Just you know if you were to blow it up Toronto wise I mean it would just be. We wouldn't know what to do with all those And what about the second challenge. I mean you mentioned that Now that houses are more more expensive some people are being forced to rent. Where's the new inventory coming from? Because again you think about how the bigger cities solve these problems like journal can throw up six new condo towers hours right. The developers are all over it. How does that work on an island with limited Limited resources but also just like space. Yeah there are definitely you know. The government airman has responded. There are more affordable units that are starting to come to market. They're throwing millions of dollars at this but A lot of what we're seeing. That's coming on and lot of develop developers are starting to reactor saying we need. There's a huge potential here for rentals. We need rentals but a lot of those are going to be at market rates right so P I like a lot out of a lot of provinces has rent control which for tenants is great. Because you know more or less that your rent increases year to year are going to be pretty limited. Let's I'd say around inflation two percents or so. But when a unit is vacated or a new unit comes onto the market the landlords can set it where they want right so the new listings. That are getting come. Available available in a lot is going to be a market rate. They're going to be a pretty high rate so the average rent in. Pi is somewhat modest. It's like you know nine hundred dollars that includes people who've been under rent control. It's they've rented an apartment for twenty years right on the island. But the new stuff you see you know fifteen seventeen eighteen hundred dollars for pretty modest accommodations so when you talk to people. They're either people who were trying to render. Just people who've lived there for quite some time. Where where are they feeling the squeeze and and what do they think the government should be doing one thing that you hear a lot from people? They're they're they're they're squeezes in a few different directions. One is that I'm just tons of families families that are unable to find the space so families of five. There are crowding into two bedrooms. As I mentioned earlier for three bedroom vacancies couple years ago there was literally nothing available so finding the space for families is has been a real challenge. Another one that I've heard about quite a bit is for students for Upi about about ninety percent of their housing is off campus. The only have a few hundred beds on campus. But what. I've been hearing from students that they're competing with the short term rental market a lot so sites it's like Airbnb. The touristy is still going in September when school starts so a lot of students are having to double up with other people who happen to have apartments wade out. The tourism season. Then get a rental for October. So there's quite a bit precariousness that you're seeing at the start of the school

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