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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rent is harder to afford

Housing in Nanaimo is a frequent topic of discussion for a reason, says letter writer

To the editor,

I hope prospective local politicians are reading the letters page in the Bulletin. Housing in Nanaimo is a frequent topic for a reason. We really could have surprising numbers of working homeless in the near future if more affordable housing doesn’t open up soon.

Near where I live and rent, some new apartment buildings have started renting over the last couple of years. I’m told the units start at about $1,100 a month.

Consider that retail workers at the mall would certainly form one of the largest groups of workers in the city. But how many employees would be able to afford over $1,000 a month rent? The situation repeats all over the city; most jobs cannot account for the modern reality of living in Nanaimo. Rents are drawing closer to the standard on the Lower Mainland.

Rents also rise annually now. They didn’t always. The reason given is consistently rising property taxes. Most homeowners I know confirm that property taxes are pushing up. Every year. The only reasonable new housing I’m aware of is for people with disabilities and mental health or addiction issues.

Once upon a time, Nanaimo had lots of affordable housing, even a surplus. Through the hard economy of the eighties and ups and downs of the ’90s, renters could rely on liveable rents. When did it all change? I think one could cite the exact moment: once the 2010 Olympics were delivered to Vancouver the race to cash in began. Developers from other parts of Canada and other parts of the world bought up buildings, building sites, vacant lots, and the evictions began.

Our current council and mayor have talked about housing for nearly four years and the situation has done nothing but spiral downward. One can hope it will improve but time does not favour that proposition.

Michael Dance, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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