CONSIDERING HOUSING                                A provincewide campaign is raising issues about housing as the Oct. 20 municipal election approaches. Summerland has three nonprofit housing organizations, overseeing 199 units in the community.                                (Summerland Review file photo)

CONSIDERING HOUSING A provincewide campaign is raising issues about housing as the Oct. 20 municipal election approaches. Summerland has three nonprofit housing organizations, overseeing 199 units in the community. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland housing needs raised as election issue

Provincewide campaign addresses low vacancy rate and high rent costs

Two British Columbia housing associations believe affordable housing should be an issue in the upcoming municipal elections.

The Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C. and the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association have launched their Make Housing Central initiative to address housing-related issues.

“The lack of affordable housing, combined with high-market rents, are a problem for low-income and low-wage people in every city and town across our province,” the campaign information package states.

The two housing organizations have compiled statistics on housing in communities throughout the province.

In Summerland, there are 3,890 owner households and 900 renter households.

Of the renters in Summerland, 49 per cent spend more than 30 per cent of their before tax income on shelter costs, and 24 per cent spend more than half their before tax income on the costs of housing.

In addition the organizations state that seven per cent of Summerland renters are living in overcrowded, unsuitable conditions, based on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s standards.

Summerland has three nonprofit housing providers, with a total of 199 units. The three Summerland organizations are Parkdale Place Housing Society, Summerland Kiwanis Senior Citizen Housing and Summerland Senior Citizens Housing Society.

The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre has also been addressing housing during the lead-up to the Oct. 20 municipal election.

The centre is sponsoring an all-candidates meeting to discuss housing challenges and needs in Summerland.

John Bubb, president of the food bank, said there is an increase in the number of food bank users who cannot find a safe, comfortable place to live.

“More people are having to live in their vehicles, some are camping out in the orchards that surround our town, and it’s getting worse,” he said.

Because of the low vacancy rate in Summerland, rent rates have increased and those on low wages are having an increasingly difficult time finding accommodations they can afford, even though they qualify for the province’s rent geared to income programs.

The housing forum will be held at Summerland United Church on Monday, Oct. 15, beginning at 7 p.m.

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