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Report: Renting unaffordable for many in Metro Vancouver

High rent and low incomes to negatively impact quality of life; local labour pool

July 7, 2016, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – Renting is no longer a viable alternative to owning for many working households in Metro Vancouver, says a new report by Vancity credit union.

The report, Rent Race: the growing unaffordability of rent in Metro Vancouver, found that the average Millennial renter household earned an estimated median income of $40,300 in 2015 and can afford to rent in only two neighbourhoods in the City of Vancouver.

The report found:

  • Affordable rents can generally be found only in East Hastings, Marpole, Southeast Burnaby, Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley City, Langley District Municipality, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Tri-cities and Pitt Meadows yet they may be challenged to find accommodation due to a lack of vacancy. Transportation costs also have the potential to erode affordability in these areas.
  • While weekly median wages grew by 6.6% in B.C. between 2011 and 2015, rents increased at a rate closer to double that—up by 11.4% on average in Metro Vancouver.
  • High average rents ($1,144 per month) and low vacancy rates (0.8%) throughout the region are increasingly limiting the options of where younger and lower income households can live and work.

Renters account for more than one-third of households in Metro Vancouver and a majority of residents in the City of Vancouver (51 per cent). Millennials are over represented among renter households, amounting to 33% per cent of the total.

Despite common perceptions that renters are primarily employed in low-wage service jobs, renters have a higher labour participation rate (69.1 per cent) than homeowners (64.9 per cent), and are dispersed throughout the entire economy—working as health and education professionals, in construction, finance, social assistance, and other industries.

The report found that renter workers making median incomes in several industries face the real possibility of being priced out of the communities they call home. This trend could leave Metro Vancouver with a limited pool of talent to draw from.

Recommendations to protect the current stock of affordable rental housing and to stimulate a new supply are made in the report, including increasing developers’ incentives for this type of building. Another recommendation is for various levels of government to provide tax incentives to developers and owners of purpose-built rental housing to make rental properties as competitive in the market as condominiums.


“The attention on housing needs to broaden to include more permanent and affordable rental housing options. People from all incomes need housing stability and local businesses need a well-housed labour pool to deliver the services that all British Columbians rely on.” William Azaroff, Vancity’s vice-president of community investment

Additional information

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About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 519,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $19.8 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


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