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Local data helps inform housing solutions

Submitted by Salt Spring Solutions

Salt Spring Solutions is a group of community volunteers with professional expertise in statistical analysis, large datasets and public policy planning.

We have been analyzing and reporting on the 2021 Census results for over a year. Here is some of what we have learned.

Finding #1

Finding #2

Salt Spring Island is losing its renters.

• Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of households on Salt Spring that were rentals dropped by 23 per cent.

• In 2021, the island’s population of rental households was less than 19 per cent and significantly below the provincial average of 33 per cent .

• The disappearance and displacement of renters means we’re seeing a loss of demographic diversity, a lack of inclusion, and shrinkage of our local workforce.

• A mix of different housing types, including rental, ensures social and economic diversity, inclusion, and a viable workforce on the island. This is a clearly stated objective in our Official Community Plan.

Finding #3

Salt Spring Island is one of the province’s most unaffordable places to be a renter.

• Approximately 425 of the 945 renter households on Salt Spring pay an unaffordable amount of their monthly income for housing, with 30 per cent or more of their total household income going towards rent and utilities.

• Within that group, many renters are paying well over 50 per cent of their monthly income, which is described as a “crisis-level” amount.

Housing unaffordability disproportionately affects rental households

• In 2021, almost half of the renter households on Salt Spring Island spent 30% or more of their income on shelter, which makes this one of the top 10% least affordable places to live in B.C.

• In contrast, only 20 per cent of owner households spent 30 per cent or more of their income on shelter, which shows that housing unaffordability disproportionately affects renters.

Finding #4

We collect and analyze monthly information from local ads for “available” and “wanted” rental housing. Here’s what we know:

• Average market rental rates have soared in the last few years.

• The people most deeply affected by the lack of availability and soaring costs of rentals are singles, single-parent households and couples without kids.

• The vacancy rate for long-term rentals on Salt Spring is effectively zero. There are always more people looking for housing than available rentals.

Salt Spring Solutions is advocating for open, respectful, fact-based dialogue and development of innovative policy solutions to our community’s challenges. We envision a resilient Salt Spring Island community that works together to equitably care for the ecology and the community as one. Join the conversation at saltspringsolutions.com.

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