Housing Issues

The Bowen Island Housing Needs Assessment conducted in 2007 and updated in 2008 identified the following issues:

High incomes are needed to purchase modest Bowen housing. Household incomes of between $85,000 and $100,000 are now needed to buy entry-level housing and the typical non-waterfront single-family home respectively. While this only affects newcomers to the island, or those who currently rent, only the highest earning 41% of Bowen households could afford to buy these units today. Residents are already seeing a difference in the new Bowen homeowners. This suggests that Bowen’s population may continue to shift towards those with higher incomes as housing changes hands, reducing the diversity of the island community that many value.

Moderate-income earners cannot buy modest homes on Bowen today. House prices are divorced from the moderate incomes earned by many island households. Over half (51%) of Bowen households, those earning moderate incomes of between $20,000 and $79,000 per year, could not afford to buy the typical starter or non- waterfront single family home today. This is not an issue for existing housed residents, but it is for those newcomers seeking to move to the island, renters, and family members of existing residents. The affordability challenge for moderate- income households is a region wide phenomenon. It is also affecting the ability of local businesses to find and retain employees.

A few very low-income households face extreme affordability issues. In 2001, 95 or 8% of island households were paying more than 30% of their income for shelter and could not afford the average priced rental units on Bowen. They would be spending money on shelter that they could otherwise spend on food or other necessities. These households are actually worse off than their counterparts on the mainland. On Bowen, core need households are primarily renters, families with children and self-employed persons. Some of these households will be individuals on fixed incomes like income assistance or disability pensions who may also have special needs associated with their disability.

Limited housing options available to promote diversity. The housing stock on Bowen Island consists predominantly of single-family dwellings, there is no market based medium density housing like townhouses or row houses and there is a limited supply of rental units. This seriously limits housing options for those with low or fixed incomes, renters, those who might wish to live on Bowen for awhile before buying, temporary workers, as well as empty nesters who wish to sell their family home and buy something smaller and suitable for their changing lifestyle. New rental housing construction is unlikely given rental market economics.

See Bowen Housing Profile page