The supply of housing in the Cowichan Valley is not keeping pace with demand, especially in rental housing, according to a report on the housing needs in the region.
The report, prepared by MODUS Planning, Engagement, and Design and the Cowichan Housing Association for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, also concluded that there is a misalignment in housing costs and regional wages in the Valley.
The 93-page document, called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment Report, is intended to help the CVRD understand what kinds of housing are most needed in the region’s communities now and in the future, which will help with the district’s official community plan and development decisions.
The report said that between 2019 and 2025, the CVRD is expected to grow to about 92,000 people, which would represent a population growth of 15 per cent in six years.
It said that by 2025, it’s projected that the CVRD will need an additional 5,000 units of housing, with most of them being one-bedroom units, as households with one person and households with one couple will be in high demand.
“Our engagement with the community indicated a desire for smaller and more affordable housing units to answer concerns around unaffordability and mobility challenges,” the report said.
“Possible solutions include densification through land-sharing opportunities, secondary suite allowances, increased multi-family dwellings, manufactured home parks and tiny homes.”
The report said from 2016 to 2019, prices for homes increased considerably each year in the Cowichan Valley.
“This is beneficial for homeowner households, but detrimental to aspiring homeowners and suggests that, since 2016, the region’s supply of available land has been insufficient to meet growing demand,” the report stated.
“Housing demand in the CVRD is therefore expected to continue to increase as market factors push more households to seek affordable accommodation in the Cowichan Valley.”
The report said that all data sources suggest that the CVRD is also in a state of acute rental shortage, with almost no vacancies in the region.
It said that in most jurisdictions in the CVRD, the majority of renter households making less than approximately $45,000 per year spend more than 30 per cent of their annual income on housing expenses, and the majority of renter households making less than approximately $25,000 per year spend more than 50 per cent of their annual income on housing expenses, which doesn’t meet affordability standards.
“Engagement results identified a need for more rental options, including more purpose-built rentals to meet housing challenges in the CVRD, especially for young families, youth, Indigenous people, those with mental health challenges, singles and seniors,” the report said.
The report said that despite working full-time or contributing to a dual-income household, many feel that average to high incomes are no longer sufficient to rent in the Cowichan region, let alone purchase a home.
“Across the CVRD, after inflation is removed from the analysis, median household incomes decreased from $73,455 in 2006 to $69,863 in 2016,” it said.
“Due to housing costs in their communities, residents are relocating to other, more affordable communities that are further from their jobs. As a result, some may have long commutes, be more reliant on personal vehicles or be limited in future job opportunities due to public transit constraints.”