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‘Really complicated’: Affordable housing a challenge in Kelowna, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Affordable housing prices in Kelowna'
Affordable housing prices in Kelowna
WATCH: It's already one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and with the skyrocketing cost of living--finding an affordable place to live in Kelowna seems to be going from bad to worse. Questions are raised on what is an affordable price to pay. Jasmine King reports. – Nov 24, 2022

It’s already one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and with the skyrocketing cost of living, finding an affordable place to live in Kelowna seems to be going from bad to worse.

The recent rejection of an attainable rental development slated for the city’s downtown is sparking a debate on what is an affordable price to pay.

Read more: 40-storey tower proposed for downtown Kelowna

City council rejected the agreement Monday, which priced affordable studio unit rents at $2,050 a month, unanimous in saying that the price was unaffordable.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna city council rejects highrise agreement'
Kelowna city council rejects highrise agreement

A Kelowna mortgage broker said the cost of a single-family home in the city can be between $3,500 to $4,000 a month.

“What is affordable right now, I would say townhomes mostly. If you’re a family, a lot of people have to go into a townhome where maybe you get a three bedroom and the price is usually around $700,000.” said mortgage broker Aaron Marsh.

Those looking to buy their dream homes may have looked at different options in recent months, and with interest rates and the rising cost of living, higher incomes are required.

“You need dual household income. It’s very hard to qualify someone with a single income. Everyone’s different but for most borrowers, you’ll need dual household income in order to qualify,” Marsh said.

“You’re going to need at least $120,000 to qualify for a decent mortgage and it depends on your debt load. A lot of people have car payments or student loans which factor into things.”

Click to play video: 'More Okanagan residents reaching out for financial management help as key interest rate goes up again'
More Okanagan residents reaching out for financial management help as key interest rate goes up again

In recent years, many new highrise developments have been approved in Kelowna and the city is considering bringing in regulations and incentives to make them more attainable for renters.

“Do we require that all new developments provide a certain amount of affordable housing and then define that term? Is that one-bedroom units, two-bedroom units, what’s the rent and who manages it,” said Ryan Smith divisional director of planning and development for the City of Kelowna.

The city has been working with non-profit housing societies to find affordable properties in Kelowna, but that can be a long process.

“It’s really, really complicated to get affordable housing projects done in B.C. and Canada. That’s part of the reason we have a housing shortage. All across local governments, it’s not just one type of housing, it’s all types of housing we need to be building a lot more of,” added Smith.

Click to play video: 'Rental prices rise significantly in Kelowna'
Rental prices rise significantly in Kelowna

Smith said the City of Kelowna has made it a priority to find additional housing and will be asking for the public’s feedback sometime next year.

“One of the tools that we use to determine that is called a housing needs assessment. We’re going to embark on another assessment in 2023. That will help us figure out what is affordable in different categories,” said Smith.

Rental prices in Kelowna have been fluctuating in recent months with the addition of new rental properties however, Marsh said no relief is in sight.

“Kelowna is super desirable, there’s a lot of demand for people to move here. So I don’t see prices coming down anytime soon, so I think we are going to continue to have those affordability challenges,” Marsh said.

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