Only two of 232 Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) rentals are available across the municipality, though WHA officials say it is atypical for the time of year. WHA vacancy rates normally follow seasonal trends, peaking in summer and dropping in the winter but staying below one per cent annually.
The vacancy rates for 2010 are estimated to be a little big higher due to staggered availability dates for WHA property at Cheakamus Crossing.
As well, there was a record amount of market housing available through the summer and into the fall, although things tightened up with the arrival fo winter and the number of listings in Whistler is under two pages. At one point int eh spring there were over 640 long term rental listings, up from 183 for the same week in 2009.
Several reasons were cited for the high number of rentals, including residents moving into new WHA units, a slow economy and people moving after the Games.
The WHA, which is mandated to provide affordable rentals and sales to local workers who meet its criteria, has filled 55 new rental units at Cheakamus Crossing and is aiming to keep its accommodations topped up throughout 2011. Rental prices for The Chiyamesh at Cheakamus Crossing range between $775 including heat for a studio and $950 for a one-bedroom - well below the average for similar units elsewhere in the area.
"For 2010, up until November, the average market rent for a studio in Whistler was $1,059 and the average for a one bedroom was $1,261, so we do try to offer rents for below market wherever possible," said WHA housing administrator Jessica Averiss. "The Cheakamus Crossing building is an example of where we've been able to achieve that."
As well as in Cheakamus Crossing, the WHA owns rental units in the Beaver Flats, Whistler Creek Court, Nordic Drive, Lorimer Court, Nesters Pond and Nita Lake. Included in their quiver are 10 subsidized units with rent geared to income for families with lower earning capacities.
"It's a form of social housing," continued Averiss. "Our goal is to try to achieve affordable housing for people living and working in Whistler both through ownership opportunities and rental opportunities and we've been able to balance that and we hope to be able to balance that in the future."