The vacancy in Red Deer has seen a significant decline in the past years and continues to move in that direction.
In Red Deer vacancy rates are now at 3.2%, which is down from 7.5% in previous years and varies from different bedroom types and housing styles.
“The fact there was a stronger economy has contributed to the lower vacancy due to things such as new jobs created as well as migration to the City,” said Regine Durand with Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).
According to Durand about 12,000 immigrants moved to the province last year, and a significant number of those have moved to Red Deer.
Stacey Carmichael, director of programs at the Safe Harbour Society in Red Deer says the vacancy rate depends on a number of factors.
“In the past year vacancy rates have fallen I am going to guess a better 50 per cent or more and rent has remained the same,” said Carmichael.
For a number of low-income families or immigrants it may prove hard to find a reasonably priced place to rent this year in the City.
“Competition is stiffer to access units so individuals who are struggling with challenges or even with issues of poverty are going to have a hard time to find places to rent,” sais Carmichael.
Carmichael said for Safe Harbour that means people are going to have to stay in shelters a lot longer or require more support in order to access housing.
“Our numbers have been reduced some what because of the programs we are able to provide, but there are reports from the front line staff that access to housing is creeping up again,” said Carmichael.
She added a year ago it was easier to help find someone a place to live compared to now.
“Now it is more difficult and landlords are being more choosy on who they want to rent to.”
“When rental vacancy rates go down it impacts individuals in our community who have barriers to access housing and we are seeing a lot more seniors now. It fluctuates and if we have access to housing I think we can control the number of people who become homeless and get them a roof over their head more quickly,” said Carmichael.
Safe Harbour also has programs in the community that work with landlords to help support tenants.
“We work with the Red Deer housing teams so they help individuals who might not be able to find housing and they make sure the rent is paid and that they are good tenants,” said Carmichael.
“We can’t really control vacancy rates, but they do have a significant impact to the most vulnerable people in our community.”