There is a lot of frustration out there among millennials who hold a fading ember of hope to own their own home.
Constrained by high housing prices and low employment opportunities, the millennial housing problem resounded at a special evening organized by the Scugog Housing Advisory Committee Jan. 17, held at the rustic Old Flame microbrewery in Port Perry.
“We want our children to stay in Port Perry,” said Scugog Councilor Wilma Wotten. “We are not sustainable as a geriatric town, but house prices are making it impossible.”
In Port Perry, as in most of Durham Region housing costs have increased dramatically over the last few years. The average detached home in 2016 was $565,735. The millennials that came to this event say they can only afford at the most $300,000, even with two people working.
A number of the participants are currently living in the basement of their parents’ home, some with their spouse and children.
But one young man was especially eager to leave the home he grew up in and have his own space. “I would rather drive to find an affordable place to live than stay here,” he said. But even when he has driven north, the prices were still too high. And he is worried that if he goes north, he will never be able to afford something in town.
A young, married, working mother, elegantly expressed her frustration. “When my parents had a young family they could live on a single income and own a house, my dad could walk to work in Port Perry. In one generation things have changed dramatically. My husband and I both work and I was commuting 1.5 hours to work until I took a 30% pay cut to work closer to home. We have two children and we are constantly driving to day care or community centres etc. Living and working in town is a golden dream now.”
The millennials liked the idea of tiny houses; at least it would be a place of their own and not a rental building.
“Purpose built rental is not a solution,” said a young man. “If you have one bad tenant in the building it wrecks the peace for everyone.”
The millennials at the table talked about having a better life/work balance, in a complete community, where they could have day care, employment, and recreation all within walking distance.
Most of them preferred to eventually have a detached home, but one lady stated that community was more important to her than a detached home. She wants to be close to everything so that she does not have to spend hours each day driving her car.
“Development has stayed the same,” she said, “but we don’t live like that anymore.”
The Scugog Housing Advisory Committee is currently working on a Housing Plan that will address affordability and offer more housing choices for people. For more information on the plan go to Scugog.ca or email me with your thoughts and comments on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.