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Cumberland looking at adding affordable housing project

Cumberland is looking at adding some affordable rental housing.

The Oct. 13 village council agenda includes a report on amending the Village’s Official Community Plan Bylaw (OCP).

That would pave the way to rezone three properties on Second Street, at the rear of Cumberland Lodge, to allow for an affordable rental housing project for single and two-parent households. 

The properties proposed to be rezoned are owned by Island Health. 

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The Health Authority wants to lease the properties to the Comox Valley Transition Society and Dawn to Dawn – Action on Homelessness Society to manage the proposed multi-family rental apartment building. 

The rental unit breakdown is: four 2-bedroom, 15 3-bedroom, and three 4-bedroom units for a total of 22 units. 

The applicant is in the process of consolidating the three properties into a single property. 

In 2019, the region had a rental vacancy rate of 1.3 percent, making it difficult to find rental accommodation for any household, “but especially for low income households which cannot afford the average rents charged for multi bedroom units,” a village report said.

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As per the Cumberland Housing Needs Report, completed this year, low income families in Cumberland have a median income of $35,827 per year. 

“At that income, those families cannot afford the average rent of two-bedroom, three-bedroom or larger units,” the report said.

“It is likely that the unaffordability of multi-bedroom units affects families with slightly higher incomes as well, since the average rents for the region that were used to calculate rental unaffordability are provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The CMHC average rental rates have been identified as being lower than actual rents by Comox Valley housing providers and members of the public in their comments on the Housing Needs Assessment.”

BC Housing currently has a waitlist of 270 applicants waiting for below- market rental housing in the region. 

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Seventy-three of those are families. 

Dawn to Dawn has 37 applicants for family housing as of January 2020 and the Comox Valley Transition Society has 21 women- led single parent households on their waitlist for housing.

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