'I am scared we will be homeless': Your comments on housing in P.E.I.

Islanders shared their own stories of struggling to find housing on P.E.I. as a panel discussion delved into some of the issues the Island is facing.

Islanders responded to a panel discussion about a lack of housing in P.E.I.

A provincially-owned housing unit on Queen Street in Charlottetown. The province has put forward a plan to create a total of 1,000 new units over the next two years.

Islanders shared their own stories of struggling to find housing on P.E.I. as a panel discussion delved into some of the issues the Island is facing.

The Island currently has an overall vacancy rate of just 1.2 per cent, according to the latest numbers from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, with a 0.9 per cent vacancy rate in Charlottetown.

The discussion, hosted by Kerry Campbell,  aired on CBC Prince Edward Island's Facebook page and Mainstreet P.E.I. It garnered many comments from Islanders frustrated by a lack of affordable housing on the Island.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

Feeling the pinch

Many people shared their own struggles of trying to find somewhere to live.

"We are working professionals! We have good jobs. But the rental costs with child-care cost leave us nothing to save," said Becky MacDonald.

Mary Deveau said she looked at a one bedroom apartment over the summer, and the landlord told her she had a list of more than 30 people lined up to see the apartment.

Low vacancy rates have made it difficult to find a rental in P.E.I., say Islanders. (CBC)

"I pay ⅔ of my monthly income on rent and utilities," she said. "There is a serious shortage of apartments for families in Summerside."

Tasha Ramsay shared that her family of five has been actively looking for a place to live for almost two years. She said her current landlord has decided to sell the place she has been in since May 2017.

"Me and my boyfriend both watch Kijiji daily and apply for the very few places that do become available," she said.

Dora-Lynn Macnevin shared that she's also been trying to find a new place to rent for herself and three children, but said she can't find anything within her budget.

"I feel really stuck and they keep raising the rent every year, if it goes up any more I am scared we will be homeless," she said.

Living with family

Some people shared that they've moved in with family because they haven't been able to find housing.

"I'm a single parent of two living at home with my parents cause I can't find a home within my children's school district," said Curtis Cole.

"If we didn't have family, myself, my fiancé and my 3-year-old son would be homeless!" said Charlotte Murphy.

Housing co-ops like Kings Square are trying to help meet P.E.I.'s need for affordable housing. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"Just this month I know two single moms now staying with friends and families [on] couches because their is literally no where for them to go," said Kelly-Lynn O'Brian, who added that her own family has been looking for a new place for more than a year. 

"I think it's time for P.E.I. to look out for the Islanders that [are] actually willing to stay on this province," she said.

Calls to regulate rent, inspect rentals

Many of the comments said that a lack of supply has meant that what is available is too expensive.

"I'm not normally one for regulation, but looking at some of the rent prices now, it's obvious people are taking advantage," said Tara Costain. "I know demand drives the market, but it's totally unaffordable for the average person."

There were a number of comments from people who felt their current place wasn't in good condition, but were unable to find a new place to move to.

P.E.I. has a 1.2 per cent vacancy rate, according to CMHC, with only 0.9 per cent vacancy in Charlottetown. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"I believe we need inspections on all rental properties," suggested Marlene Hunt. "Sadly P.E.I. has many slum landlords and tenants are fearful to complain."

Some people commented that it is even more difficult to find a place when you have children or pets.

"There are so many issues associated with finding affordable rentals on the Island," said Jacqui Chaisson.

"Discrimination against families, pets, and youth. Landlords are turning apartments into tourist rentals or selling rental property to investors who convert to tourism rentals. The problem is this is driving up the rental costs and landlords can pick and choose who they want to rent to leaving many in dire situations."

While there were a number of concerns about the cost of rent, Janet Luxton said there's a reason landlords are charging that price per month.

"Landlords are going broke because their expenses are exploding just like tenants," she said. "We are [unnecessarily] over taxed without seeing great results for it."

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