The rental vacancy rate, and the rising cost of housing, has created a crisis for renters in the Lower Mainland.
An advocacy group says Maple Ridge needs more than 500 additional rental units, and the region almost $17,000.
The situation has reached a point where the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in a new report, is calling for 10,000 units of non-market rental housing each year.
It would cost $2.5 billion per year.
The situation is dire for low-income households, says the report.
“In Metro Vancouver’s 70 neighbourhoods, there isn’t a single area where a full-time minimum-wage worker could afford the average one-bedroom apartment,” says a release from the CCPA.
In November, Vancouver had the priciest two-bedroom rentals in Canada at just over $3,000 per month, after a 6.5 per cent increase in the last year, according to a December rent report from Rentals.ca.
Looking at rental listings for Maple Ridge on Craigslist, the average rent listed for a two-bedroom unit is $1,400, based on the most recent 20 properties listed.
This ranges from a low of $1,200 to a high of $1,950.
“The new mortgage stress test, higher interest rates and home prices have dramatically increased the number of people looking for rental accommodation this year,” said Matt Danison, CEO of Rentals.ca.
He added many young couples and families have postponed purchasing a home, which has driven two-bedroom rental rates up.
The B.C. Rental Project said the B.C. government pledged 114,000 affordable units, but has built just 1,265.
There are, however, another 5,878 under construction.
It said Maple Ridge needs another 530 rental units to rise from about one per cent vacancy to a healthier three per cent vacancy.
Across the region, the need is 16,667 more units, says the Rental Project.
Their site gives Maple Ridge credit for its housing action plan, which includes increased support for initiatives that improve housing choice and affordability.
The city also has incentives for rental buildings in tax exemptions, parking relaxation and lower development cost charges.
However, B.C. Rental Project is critical of the city for not allowing developers to add affordable units in exchange for increased density, and also for not allowing 13 market rental apartments and three affordable rental apartments as part of a density bonus for a 153-unit condo development on 227th Street.