How bad is BC’s housing crisis? This Sunshine Coast realtor can’t find a rental

A longtime resident of the Sunshine Coast faces leaving the area as housing prices and rental rates soar

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For nearly 30 years, Lori Pratt has lived on the Sunshine Coast. It’s where she raised her three daughters, volunteered for the Rotary club, and built a life.

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The realtor and elected director with the Sunshine Coast Regional District spent 10 years as a school trustee in the area, and serves on the region’s homelessness advisory committee.

Now she faces the possibility that she may have to leave the region because of the affordable housing crisis and a lack of rental options.

Pratt has rented a home with a view of the water in Halfmoon Bay for over 10 years, but her landlords recently informed her that they needed the house back for family members.

She has been scouring Craigslist, Facebook and submitting applications for an affordable rental that would be suitable for herself, her dog and her 20-year-old daughter, but has had no luck yet. And if and when she does find a place, chances are she might not be able to afford it.

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The Canadian Rental Housing Index rates the Sunshine Coast as extremely unaffordable, and the number of people spending more than half their income on rent is 40 per cent higher on the Sunshine Coast than the BC average.

“Most of what is available are $2,200 to $2,600 for a small two-bedroom, and no one is accepting pets,” said Pratt, who was priced out of the real estate market after a divorce.

Elske, her four-year old Great Pyrenees, Norwegian elkhound, German shepherd cross, is who she walks the beaches and trails with every day — and she has a cat. “Especially as my children have gone and are doing their own thing, my pets are my family,” said Pratt.

Now Pratt hopes to use her situation to shed a light on the lack of affordable housing on the Sunshine Coast.

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“We need more purpose-built rental housing and that is about aligning developers with official community plans and finding the best places for them to be built,” said Pratt.

“I’m sharing my story because it’s really key to create more rental housing. So many others don’t have this same level of support, networks, or their stories are not being told.”

The Sunshine Coast has long been popular vacation and retirement community and many people have second homes and investment properties in the area. “We’ve seen an increase in short-term rentals, or they are sitting empty,” said Pratt.

Pratt said she may have to move to Alberta, where her parents have a farm.

“I do have a place to go, but I’ve spent my entire adult life here, I’ve raised three children here, I have deep roots in the community,” said Pratt.

It wouldn’t be easy to leave. “It’s heartbreaking. I’ve raised a lot,” she said.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love to give back, I love to try and make things better, and I want to make it more sustainable for future generations.”

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