Yukon Housing Corporation units on Taylor Street in Whitehorse. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

One-day event focuses on Yukon housing woes

Territory suffers from low vacancy rate, aging rental stock

It seems like a contradiction that in a place like the Yukon, there could be a shortage of land. But that’s the case, said Mary Cameron, vice president of corporate services for Yukon Housing Corporation (YHC).

Cameron was speaking at Northern R.E.N.T., a regional education networking and trade show that took place at the Yukon Convention Centre June 12. The one-day event was put on by YHC and the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association.

Panel discussions touched on creating more housing opportunities by developing partnerships with Indigenous communities, ways of creating community within various kinds of housing developments, and tenant challenges. There was also a bus tour of recent developments in Whitehorse, including Blood Ties’ tiny house project, and other developments spearheaded by non-governmental organizations.

“(Those) agencies had vision, had capacity and ran with it so that’s the key point when we reference partnerships,” said Cameron.

She was speaking at Housing in the North, a presentation about the unique logistical challenges associated with development in the territories.

She told the audience of roughly 20 that the population in the Yukon has grown at a rate of about 620 people per year over the last 10 years. The median rent was $1,000, she said, and in 2017, the vacancy rate was 2.8 per cent.

She also said rental properties in the Yukon are, overall, in worse shape than elsewhere in Canada, with 12.5 per cent in need of major repairs. That’s twice the national average.

Still, she said, things are happening, even if it doesn’t always feel that way, and YHC is hoping for a number of new projects to be up and running within the next 16 to 18 months.

Some of these will come about as a result of the developer loan program and the housing initiatives fund.

YHC had heard, she said, that it was tough for small developers to secure financing through traditional means such as banks, so this was a response to that need.

The housing initiatives fund, which was just announced, will see the Yukon government providing $3.6 million to fund more housing in the territory, including affordable rentals and supportive housing.

Funding will begin rolling out this year and continue to 2023.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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