City's action on affordable housing

Recently on Facebook and in the news, questions have been raised about the City’s commitment to provide affordable housing. The City takes the need for affordable housing very seriously and has made many steps towards addressing the issue. This edition of For the record was prepared to highlight these efforts in response to the Penticton Western’s article published on October 4.

  • What is the need for housing in Penticton?
  • What is the City doing to address the need for affordable housing?
  • What new housing has been added?
  • When will there be improvements?

What is the need for housing in Penticton?

The housing needs of a community fluctuate with changes in the economy. To determine if Penticton has the policies in place to support the current and future housing needs of the community, the City conducted a Housing Needs Assessment in 2016. The study found that housing affordability in Penticton is declining and there is a need to address the availability of affordable market housing such as single-family homes and duplexes and non-market housing including seniors housing, rental housing and support for the homeless population. The study also showed that affordability of renter households is the most significant need in Penticton with roughly 37% of the current inventory falling below the affordability standard.

What is the City doing to address the need for more affordable housing?

The City is taking the need for affordable housing very seriously and many of the recommendations in the study are already being implemented starting with the need to increase the supply of rental housing and the need to work with the City’s various not-for-profit housing providers and BC Housing to support the homeless. Examples include:

  • Several amendments to the City’s zoning bylaw in recent years have allowed for secondary suites, carriage houses, suites in duplexes and cluster housing to support the development of more affordable housing types in Penticton.  
  • Entered into a memorandum of understanding with BC Housing to develop non-market housing on City lands (Brunswick Street) creating 52 units of housing geared towards lower income working families and individuals.
  • Supported the zoning of lands for rental apartments. Examples include Calgary Avenue (25 units), Duncan Avenue (99 units), Kinney Avenue (119 units), Westminster Avenue (12 units), Van Horne Street (32 units).
  • Issued development permits for two BC Housing rent-controlled projects (Nanaimo Street - 52 units, Backstreet - 40 units).
  • Supporting the work of 100 Homes Penticton, which has created 75+ units of supported housing in the past year and a half for persons experiencing homelessness.
  • Supported the zoning change for two motel conversions to provide supportive housing (Fairhaven and Compass Court).
  • Working on the concept for a modular housing pilot project to address temporary emergency housing needs and low-cost first phase housing.

What new housing has been added?

The following image shows the developments that have been approved by this Council and have been completed or are nearing completion. Since 2014, over 1,000 new residential units have been added to the City’s housing stock providing a wide variety of housing options for existing residents and newcomers. (Click to open image in new window.) 

                     

When will there be improvements?

The City started taking action on the need for affordable housing a few years ago. Once all of the units that have been approved are built in the next two to five years, we will see our rental stock of 2,000 units increase by 14% including a large number of rent controlled units. This is a significant increase in a short period of time and should improve the availability of affordable housing. With the information gathered in the 2016 Housing Needs Assessment, the City can base future decisions about housing on research. It will take time to address some of the needs identified in the assessment but work is well underway.