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Harsh rental housing market continues to hit Calgarians hard, driving some out of city

Calgary’s rental housing market continues to be red hot, forcing many renters out into the cold.

Gina Garland is one of them. The 55-year-old grew up in Calgary and raised her kids here, but her lease recently came up and she told Global News she was forced out. Finding a new place, she said,was next to impossible.

“I would show up to see a rental and there would be 30 to 40 other people there all waiting to see it — all at the same time,” she said.

“It was like a big cattle call.”

Garland didn’t have any cattle, but she did have a small pup named Chewie. Despite making a special resume showcasing the pair, she said she got little-to-no response.

“I started handing that out to people and just nothing. I got nothing.”

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With no place to rent inside the city, she started looking beyond city limits. A friend offered the use of his RV located on a patch of farmland in Didsbury.

“All of my stuff went into storage. It’s costing me like $400 a month to just to store my furniture,” she said. “And I’m staying in this RV with no hot water, very bad internet.”

Calgarian forced out of her home by low vacancies and high rents. Courtesy: Gina Garland

Renter Stephanie Haynes is dealing with some “less than ideal” conditions of her own. Haynes does have an apartment in Calgary that she has called home for the past two years, but her building has been undergoing an extensive renovation during much of that time.

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“While I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, the rest of it isn’t great,” Haynes told Global News. “It has been mentally draining to live here.”

Haynes said she has had to deal with excessive construction noise as well as sweltering heat. To top it all off, her rent has been topped up to what she said she was told is “market value.”

“On average, everybody’s rent went up 30 per cent. Mine went up 31 per cent,” she pointed out. “I was paying $1,186 (per month). And then it went up to $1,550.”

“We were already not having the greatest time before. It’s not like wages are going up exponentially. So it is difficult.”

Rental rate hikes

New numbers from show Haynes’ rent is actually below average for the City of Calgary.

The average rental rate for a one-bedroom condo or apartment this past July was $1,687 — up 3.4 per cent month-over-month and 12.7 per cent year-over-year. An average two-bedroom, again in July, rang in at $2,086. That is a rate hike of 3.3 per cent month-over-month and 14.5 per cent year-over-year.

“The rental crisis is just out of control,” Haynes said.

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She is so upset by what’s going on she has started a tenant union at her building. Together, they have tried to get answers as to why the rate hikes, as well as  attempting to improve the living conditions. She, like many others across the province, have also called for rent controls and rental rate caps which the province has previously dismissed.

Garland, who left her children and grandchildren in Calgary, doesn’t expect to ever be able to move back. She is also worried about making a home in Didsbury, adding rents are also rising there while vacancies are dropping.

“The rents up here seem to be much cheaper, but I think everybody else is coming to that assumption as well,” she pointed out. “I see places go up and again they’ve been inundated with applications.”

Her hope: to one day find a permanent home for her and Chewie.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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