Seasonal workers scrambling to find a home 

Fall housing crunch six to eight weeks ahead of past years

Every Thursday morning, Brent Arentsen diligently grabs a copy of Pique, flips to the classifieds section, and begins calling potential landlords one-by-one from the Long Term Accommodation section. Almost always, he reaches an answering machine and leaves a message.

Each week is more discouraging though, as the list of available rental housing units in the paper slowly shrinks. And Arentsen still has not received a call back from a single landlord.

“I have been looking since I moved here, about three and a half, four weeks ago now,” said Arentsen.

“It is really hard because I am a 20-year-old male, so I look like a trouble maker. And people don’t realize that you could be a 20-year-old male, but you could have gone to school, gotten a diploma, be employed full time, and be responsible and trustworthy,” said the Ucluelet-native, who is willing to pay up to $1,000 per month for a room.

While it has always been tough to find a place in this resort town, things may be worse this winter, with rental inventory already running out before November hits.

Arentsen, who got a place immediately last winter, said that off the top of his head he knows at least 12 other people who are in the same boat as him.

“We are all doing the same thing, we are all calling. Some people are getting responses, getting messages back on their cell phones, but when it comes to actually view a place…

“One of my friends actually was able to get in contact with the landlord, but they required six months rent up front. And no one really has that kind of money,” he said.

Arentsen’s challenges in finding a place to live this fall are not unique. The demand for housing is outpacing the supply, and this week’s Pique Long Term Accommodation section had 46 postings for rent, compared to 43 people seeking accommodation.

And this trend is continued on the Whistler Housing Authority’s (WHA) website.

General manager Marla Zucht said the WHA usually has between 12 and 20 places for rent listed on the website. This month there are only two. Conversely, 67 people have posted ads seeking accommodation.

“We are definitely noticing that this year in the housing crunch there is less availability in the rental market… than we have seen in recent past years,” said Zucht, comparing this fall’s inventory levels to those of 2002.

Gord Low, owner of Mountain Country Property Management, said his company has also noticed rental inventories are running out faster this year.

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