The unprecedented real estate market in B.C. has had a number of spinoff effects, including the creation of a rental crisis, but the latest may be the availability of independent living for seniors.
The vacancy rate for independent living spaces declined in B.C. for the fourth consecutive year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) 2016 Senior Housing Report.
The provincial rate decreased from 9.1 per cent in 2015 to 6.3 per cent in 2016, according to CMHC.
In the Chilliwack/Agassiz/Hope area it was even more pronounced as the vacancy rate fell from 10.6 per cent in 2015 to six per cent this year.
“The main driver for this is the growing seniors population and in some areas, a strong resale market that has made it easier for seniors to sell their homes and move into facilities that better suit their needs,” according to CMHC analyst Richard Sam.
The area saw a reduction of bachelor suite availability from 6.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent and for one bedroom units from 11.9 per cent to 5.3 per cent.
Units below $1,900 a month were already hard to come by in Chilliwack/Agassiz/Hope and the vacancy rate fell from 2.7 to 2.4 per cent. But more dramatic was a decrease in the availability of units in the $1,900 to $2,399 range as the vacancy rate fell from 11.9 per cent to 3.8 per cent.
There are 15 residences in the Chilliwack/Agassiz/Hope are with 969 residents. The estimated population of those over 75 in the area is 9,522.
Average rents, however, have changed negligibly with an average of $2,302 per month in 2015 to $2,314 in 2016.
The local costs are far below the Lower Mainland average, which hit $3,239 per month.