Prince George residents are digger deeper into their pockets to pay their rent and utilities.

According to data released by the Canadian Rental Housing Index, the average monthly rent and utilities went from $928 in 2016 to $1,083 in 2021 – a spike of 16.7% over the five-year period.

While these costs are on the rise in the northern capital, they are still well below the average price of rent in BC, which inflated by 30% during the exact same time period.

The average monthly rent and utilities in the province was $1,492 in 2021.

Erika Sagert is the policy manager for the BC Non-Profit Housing Association told Vista Radio the COVID-19 benefits people received assisted greatly in keeping their housing.

“They were very well taken up by households. The median amount of income that people received from those relief programs was quite high – so if you are looking at someone that has a low income, a few thousand dollars makes a really big difference in paying for your housing.”

“Folks who get a little bit of extra income really use those funds to pay for those essentials. They are using it to pay for their rental housing and it’s making the affordability picture look quite good for them.”

“It gave us a bit of a skewed picture of how people were able to afford their rent. But overall, in Prince George, generally speaking, it looks like the city was faring slightly better than the provincial average,” added Sagert.

Even though rents found themselves on an upward trend, the percentage of households spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities dropped between 2016 and 2021.

Two years ago, just 29% of local renters spent over 30% of their income on both and 9% spent more than half of their income.

That’s a substantial drop from 2016 when 40 percent of renters spent 30 percent of their income on housing and 17% spent over half.

In addition, households renting in Prince George saw a rise in income over the five-year period going from $52,638 (2016) to $68,200 (2021).

Locally, nine percent of households who rent lived in properties needing major repair, slightly higher than the provincial average of seven percent.

Between 2016 and 2021, the volume of renting households in PG went from 9,430 to 10,100.

“When we are looking at incomes and renters making an average of about half of what an owner does we realize there was a gap in understanding of the specific needs of renter households when it came to the housing crisis we’ve all experienced. This data set is really to help folks understand that picture for renter households,” said Sagert.

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George saw similar trends in the report.

Over the five-year period, 28% of households spent 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities (2021) – a 10-point drop from 2016.

The average monthly cost of rent and utilities went from $918 to $1,070 between 2016 and 2021.

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