Barrie reports fourth highest rental rates in Canada for third consecutive month

Barrie reports fourth highest rental rates in Canada for third consecutive month
New numbers released by apartment-hunting website  Padmapper on June 13, suggest Barrie is still the fourth most expensive city in Canada to rent an apartment.

According to Padmapper , Barrie’s median rental prices were high enough to claim the second spot in Ontario, behind Toronto.

Despite a 3.6 per cent decrease in the cost of a one-bedroom apartment, on average, renters are still paying $1,330 a month for a one-bedroom place in the city. This is nearly 15 per cent more than they were last year.

While the price for a one-bedroom apartment decreased a few percentage points from last month, the cost of a two-bedroom rental grew 4.7 per cent. The median price for a two-bedroom unit in the city is now $1,570.

Additionally, current Barrie MLS statistics indicate the average price to buy a house in the city is $473,449, making it a difficult time to be looking for a rental, or permanent home in the city.

This is proving to have real consequences on residents, who are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the lofty rents in the city.

Ashleigh Thomas, a 25-year-old Barrie resident, is one of many who haven’t been able to find an affordable place to live. Due to the soaring rents, she still lives at home.

“It would be nice to move out,” she said. “But who can afford to?”

Thomas says she doesn’t know how anyone can afford to live on their own in the city, and as a mother with a child to worry about, the search for an affordable home has become very difficult.

“If I wanted to move out, I’d be looking at $1,500-not-inclusive for a two-bedroom place. Probably a basement of someone’s house. If I wanted an actual house to rent, I’d be looking at $2,000-not-inclusive with roommates whom I’d need to worry about with my son.”

Like several others in the city, Thomas feels trapped in the current housing market. “You can’t afford to move out, you can’t afford to buy,” she said.

Jennifer VanGennip is the director of communications at Redwood Park Communities, an organization which works to provide safe, affordable housing to those in need in Simcoe County.  VanGennip says while there are many reasons rental pricing is so high in the city, the biggest factor is simply a lack of supply.

“It’s mostly a lack of affordable housing stock, so there just isn’t enough affordable housing to fill the demand,” she said.

VanGennip says the prices of homes on the market are too high for people looking to buy their first homes. Therefore, people who would normally be moving out of rentals and into starter homes can’t afford to, which causes a shortage in supply of rental units, ultimately driving the price up.

“It’s really difficult to save up for a down payment when you’re paying $1,500 a month for rent, there’s nothing really left over to save. And so things just aren’t moving in the same way they used to,” she said.

Subsequently, VanGennip says families, who a few years ago may have been able to afford a house, are finding themselves inadequately housed and in vulnerable situations in the current market. “Families are just one weird life event away from losing their housing,” she said, noting that many families are living paycheque to paycheque.

In order to help alleviate some of this pressure, the city has committed to a comprehensive 10-year affordable housing strategy, and has set a goal of creating 840 affordable units by 2024.

In March, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman announced the city had created 441 units, saying the city is was already two years ahead of where they thought they would be.

Similarly, in April, the provincial government announced it would be giving the city over $1.5 million to provide development charge rebates to entice developers to build affordable housing units in the city. An investment Mayor Lehman was optimistic would help improve the housing affordability problem.
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