The Affordable Housing Task Force members have been speaking to residents throughout Okotoks to learn about the challenges people are facing to find a home. They are sharing these stories with the Okotoks community to demonstrate the growing need for more diverse, inclusive housing in the town.
Tannis Andrejcin, task force member and a local realtor, spoke to owners of secondary suites about the challenges they have seen for their tenants.
One landlord shared a story of a tenant who was forced to move her family to High River after a divorce. Both her son and daughter were enrolled in Ecole Secondaire Foothills Composite High School and took the bus from High River to Okotoks daily for school. In the fall 2019, they were informed there wasn't enough room on the bus for both kids. The mother had to drive her son to school until they found an affordable rental in Okotoks. By this time she was in a relationship where they had two incomes and could afford to rent a home in Okotoks.
Another property owner rents a main floor suite for $1500+ utilities. It is completely renovated with new floors, quartz counters, stainless appliances, and always has an abundance of people interested whenever it becomes available. The only other properties for rent in this price range are apartments or town homes.
The opportunity to have an entire main floor three bedroom, two bathroom home, with a large private back yard and a driveway to park in draws a lot of interest. The current tenant is a single woman in her 50s who has limited options for where she can live after a divorce. Her current financial situation does not allow her to be a home owner, for the first time in 30 years.
“Okotoks is not as affluent as it once was, and I know many people selling big beautiful homes to move into smaller homes or even rentals due to circumstance,” said Andrejcin. “Rental demand is increasing as more and more people are unable to afford home ownership. This will undoubtedly cause rents to increase as well.”
Secondary suites are one option that provide affordable housing badly needed by young adults, those on a single income, and anyone who is experiencing financial constraints. It also benefits home owners who are struggling to pay their mortgages.
“At a time where many people are losing their homes to the bank with more foreclosures in 2019 than at any time other than 1987, Okotoks needs affordable rental options more than ever,’ said Andrejcin.