New Housing Needs Survey Highlights Local Challenges

Survey Results GraphA family housing survey completed last month confirmed that many Salt Spring Island households are challenged to find suitable and secure housing within their financial means.

The survey, conducted by Salt Spring Community Services, considered the full range of long term housing needs – from very low-income households looking for rentals to dual income households wanting to purchase.

With the elimination of the long form census, there has been no current socio-economic data on the local population for almost a decade. The survey, concentrated on families and housing needs, serves to illustrate the affordability challenges that are faced by many families when looking for secure, affordable housing.

The majority of respondents reported annual household incomes of less than $60,000 (71%) while the largest income group was households earning between $20,000 and $39,000 (30%). Salt Spring has traditionally had a lower average income compared to the rest of the province. The BC average income, according to Stats Canada is $46,500(

On average, single parent households reported smaller annual incomes, with nearly 75% earning less than $40,000 annually and 46% earning less than $20,000 annually.

While similar numbers of respondents currently rent and own their homes, 75% stated a preference to own. Barriers to homeownership include producing a down payment, qualifying for a mortgage and finding suitable housing.

More than half of respondents identified private yards, proximity to nature, ability to grow their food and homeownership as very important.

Despite preferences for larger, detached homes, respondents placed greater importance on affordability, long-term occupancy and quality and condition than on housing form.

The majority of respondents indicated an interest in alternative means to homeownership and more compact housing forms to achieve greater affordability. This suggests a willingness to explore less common housing solutions that still provide the characteristics respondents considered very important.

SSICS will use this information and further analysis of the data set to inform the current affordable housing project planned for the five acres they own in Ganges Village, as well as future projects and programs.

More detailed results can be seen by downloading the Survey Summary of Results