Report shows more housing needed by 2031

Housing needs on the rise

Kelowna will need between 19,000 and 26,000 new housing units by 2031 to keep up with the expected demand of historic growth within the city.

That according to the latest housing needs assessment figures unveiled Monday.

"There is a significant housing deficit in Kelowna...these are homes urgently needed to meet the current shortfall of housing in our community," planner Arlene Janousek told council.

"This is the first time we have quantified the existing housing deficit through a housing needs assessment."

Janousek said the demand for housing is higher than expected due to the city's current rate of population growth.

Factoring in the current deficit, population growth and expected demolition of some existing housing, Janousek says between 18,740 and 26,470 new housing units will need to be constructed by 2031.

Low income residents, seniors and students, she said, are disproportionately hit hardest.

"Affordability is a key concern for these groups, but they also have needs that include accessing housing that is adequate in terms of the right size, location, cultural amenities, accessibility considerations and other factors."

Compounding the issue for those at the lower end of the housing continuum is the lack of affordable, subsidized housing.

She says the assessment found about 25 per cent of household needs would be best met with subsidized rental housing.

"However, only about two per cent of what is coming on line is this form."

She said people are having to live in overcrowded situation or working multiple jobs and forced to make tough decisions between shelter, food and medicine.

"We acknowledge subsidized rental housing is challenging to deliver and to understand how this might be addressed, we did a high level assessment of public and non-profit lands that could be suitable.

"We found there is significant capacity within the city to accommodate this type of housing."

While more specific study would need to be done on a lot-by-lot basis, Janousek did say those properties, if unlocked, would provide a majority of current and future need for subsidized housing could be addressed.

Coun. Ron Cannan said with growth there is always going to be a demand for housing...there will never be enough.

"We have to do something different," he said while applauding initiatives taken by the previous council to try and make housing more affordable.

"Just to add units is not working, it's not helping the affordability and our infrastructure deficit is getting worse. I appreciate these numbers but there is a lot more to be done."

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