We’ve heard from businesses across the Cowichan region: the housing crisis is affecting employers’ ability to attract and retain employees. Economic Development Cowichan is working on a Workforce Housing Strategy to find solutions to housing Cowichan’s workers, and ease the impacts of the current labour shortage.
The Housing Crisis is impacting Cowichan’s Labour Force
The impacts of the nation-wide labour shortage are being seen across Cowichan – from shortened operating hours and long waits for services, down to businesses shutting their doors completely because of the lack of staff. The region is also in the midst of a housing crisis, with the benchmark price of a single-family home increasing over 100% in the past 5 years, and the vacancy rate for apartments in Duncan just 0.6%. The 2021 Cowichan Regional Housing Needs Assessment report estimates that 4,955 new housing units are needed in Cowichan by 2025 to accommodate the region’s population growth. These two issues of housing and labour are not unrelated: those who work in Cowichan need a place to live, and if workers can’t find appropriate housing, they will relocate elsewhere.
Economic Development Cowichan is developing a Workforce Housing Strategy
The team at Economic Development Cowichan is launching a survey to gather feedback from both workers and employers on strategies to address the shortage of housing for the workforce, in anticipation of developing a Workforce Housing Strategy later this year. The data received through the survey will provide an overview of existing housing needs, and help identify feasible solutions to explore as part of the larger Strategy.
“We understand the critical importance of taking immediate steps to address the affordable housing needs of Cowichan’s workforce, and the connection to labour supply issues”, says Brittany Taylor, Acting Manager of Economic Development Cowichan. “The Workforce Housing Strategy will focus on concrete actions to address the housing shortage as it relates to employment.”
The survey is available to be completed by both employers or employees, which will give context to the impact that housing has had on both businesses and workers in the region. The survey will also uncover the existing ways that employers and their staff are dealing with housing needs, which will help guide how the region can develop appropriate solutions for the region. The Workforce Housing Strategy will focus on concrete actions to address the housing shortage as it relates to employment. The survey was developed in partnership with Cowichan Housing Association.
Visit planyourcowichan.ca/workforce-housing to complete the survey by June 17, 2022. Please share this survey with your employer, employees, or any friends or family that are impacted by the housing crisis!