Houses are seen under construction in Whistle Band in May 2016. Figures from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics showed the rental vacancy rate in Whitehorse dropped to 1.7 per cent in April. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

‘No question’ about need for more affordable housing: YAPC

Rental vacancy rate drops to under two per cent in Whitehorse

High rental prices coupled with low vacancy rates make it hard for the financially challenged to find housing in the city, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

YAPC has definitely noticed through its client base — many of whom are “low income folks who might not have support” — that the vacancy rate is “very low,” said Kristina Craig, co-ordinator for YAPC.

“There’s basically little to no housing for low income folks,” she said. “It’s distressing.”

Craig said other factors can make it even more difficult to find an affordable place to live in Whitehorse. It is “almost impossible,” for many low-income people to find a place to rent if, “you have a pet, smoke or have poor references.”

The vacancy rate in Whitehorse fell by one percentage point in April 2017, a recent report from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics says.

The vacancy rate for an apartment — a unit in a building with three or more rental units — dropped from three per cent in October 2016 to two per cent in April. The average vacancy rate for all types of apartments in Whitehorse was 1.7 per cent.

The median rent for an apartment like this remained steady at $1,000. This number is thought to be artificially lowered by tenants who have remained in apartments over time at relatively fixed rates and may actually be higher than statistically reported.

A 2016 report by YAPC lists a living wage in the Yukon to be $19.12 an hour, or for a family of four where both parents are working 35 hours a week, approximately $70,000 a year.

The recently released 2017 Whitehorse Citizens’ Survey showed that about 15.5 per cent of surveyed households made less than $50,000 last year.

“We need more affordable housing and more housing first initiatives so folks aren’t forced to live at a shelter,” Craig said.

“We need more housing, there’s no question about it.”

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com