Affordable housing crunch tough on Charlottetown young adults, survey suggests

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Anderson House, Holland College feeling effects of tight Charlottetown rental market

P.E.I. may not be as affordable a place to live as people think, suggests a survey by the city's Youth Retention Advisory Board.

Board member Alex Youland said low wages and a lack of affordable housing is making it difficult for young adults on P.E.I. get a place of their own.

More than half of the 850 survey respondents said they were unhappy with their current housing situation, primarily because of cost, and report spending more than 30 per cent of their monthly income on housing.

40 per cent making less than $25K

"There's a certain perception that P.E.I. is an affordable place to live and I really think that now we have some numbers in place that really showcase that that's not the case anymore, especially when we look at the wages that people are earning on the Island," he said.

The survey, for people between the ages of 16 and 35, ran from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16, 2018.

Forty per cent of the respondents said they were making less than $25,000 a year, even though 75 per cent said they had a post-secondary education. Youland said the survey indicated young adults are finding it hard to save for a down payment on a home.

"They're currently living with roommates or maybe family and their goal is to not do that," he said. "One of the things we tried to recommend in the report was for employers to look at what it takes to attract top talent to their business, and maybe that is offering higher wages."

The board's objective through the survey was to collect meaningful data from the city's youth that can be used to help shape policy and direction as the city works with its partners and other levels of government to address housing concerns.

Influx of Airbnb rentals

In November of 2017, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported that P.E.I. had record low vacancy rates of 1.2 per cent, and even lower in Charlottetown. The board's report suggests the influx in Airbnb rental properties has contributed to the housing shortage, with more than 300 Airbnb registered rentals available on P.E.I.

Among the report's recommendations are a reduction in parking minimums, reviewing building codes and the creation of a revolving affordable housing loan.

"The goal of this report is to educate those interested about the real world implications and effects that the current housing market has on our young people," said board member Zac Murphy in a news release.

"There is no quick fix or simple solutions and we don't pretend to be experts, but we know that policy is being developed and we want to make sure there is data available that speaks to how this situation impacts youth."

The report will be forwarded to city council for review and a resolution to officially accept the report is scheduled for the May 14 public meeting of council.

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