The Village of Clinton is facing a full-on housing shortage, forcing new employees to delay their start times or others to live in their businesses because there are few rental options available.
Clinton’s new community development coordinator Madeleine Haynes, for instance, had expected to start her job a few weeks ago but couldn’t find a place to live. She has since found a home for $750 a month at a local inn until April.
“I took the position and they asked me when I could start and I said right away. Then I realized that housing was kind of an issue and it wasn’t as simple as just moving up here,” Haynes said.
Haynes’ situation has become a common occurrence in the small community, which has “basically a zero vacancy rate,” according to Mayor Susan Swan. More people have been flocking to communities across the South Cariboo, over the past year, putting pressure on both rentals and homes for sale.
Many of the newcomers to Clinton are young people with families, transforming the village’s demographics, Swan said.
“Some people are returning home to Clinton after being raised here, some people are coming here for employment and we have a lot of new young families where one parent stays here with the kids while the other goes off to work elsewhere,” Swan said. “I love it, I just wish we had more places available for them.”
CAO Murray Daly was able to buy a fixer-upper when he moved to town last year, but Haynes, who came from Vernon, struggled to find anything available. She was lucky that her predecessor Meghan Burrage put her in contact with the inn.
Others, meanwhile, are having to live out of their businesses because they can’t find available rentals. One couple, who asked not to be named, said they moved to Clinton to “get away from a crazy rental market,” but now they could be forced to look elsewhere. Haynes said she hopes to find something more permanent but the closest ad for a rental she’s seen so far has been in Cache Creek.
“Without some kind of connection in Clinton, I don’t think I would have found anything for a while.”
Swan said the lack of housing is making it difficult for Clinton’s businesses to find employees although she didn’t have specific examples.
Meanwhile, the Village is discussing ways to help address the housing crisis, such as developing rental units on village land but in the short term, she doesn’t have an answer.
“We lost our mill in 2019 and you’d think that because some people had to relocate for a new job there’d be more housing. Anytime a house goes on the market it sells so quickly and there’s been bidding wars on homes, which is surprising,” Swan said, noting she’s seen homes go for between $150,000 to $300,000.
Daly told the Free Press in July that the district was seeking grant funding to help build a road and 25-home subdivision on a village lot above Carson Street. The village has hired a grant writer to investigate other funding sources for the project after it was unsuccessful in getting a $900,000 COVID-19 infrastructure grant.
The project, on the books for the past five years, would help bring more housing to the area, which has few homes to rent or buy right now and almost no available building sites to expand the town. The grant funding would go toward building the road as well as servicing the sites with water and sewer. The sites would be the standard single-family residential lot size.
The move comes as the B.C. government is nearing the completion of a new supportive housing facility in Clinton. Although the new facility could potentially open up 20 homes in the village, that depends on whether or not the owners decide to sell or rent their homes. The housing facility is slated to open this month.
Swan encourages any developers with ideas to help ease the housing crisis to approach council with a proposal as Clinton is “open for business.”
“Clinton is just a nice place to call home,” she said. “Low crime rate, lots of things for kids to do, lots of other kids to play with and we have our K-to-12 school.”