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New recruits at CFB Esquimalt struggle to find housing after training completed

Some personnel remain in single quarters due to cost, availability of housing in region
Lack of available and affordable housing in the region has seen some junior members of the Royal Canadian Navy at CFB Esquimalt stay in single quarters largely meant for trainees, months after they were meant to find housing off base. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Housing prices around the region are forcing some junior members at CFB Esquimalt to stay in training quarters for months after their training is completed.

Base commander Capt. J. Jeffrey Hutchinson said a number of new personnel have approached higher-ups in the chain of command over the past year asking for help finding housing.

“The current demand for military rental housing at CFB Esquimalt is higher than at any time in recent memory and is a clear sign that members are having trouble finding housing in the current economy,” he said in an email.

Junior members are given beds in the singles quarters on base during training and typically expected to find housing in the local area when their training is completed.

The rooms on the base are usually one or two to a room with a shared bathroom and larger shared eating area, similar to a university residence, Hutchinson said. Those beds aren’t meant to be used as permanent housing, but the base has had to house some members in those rooms on a short-term basis (usually less than six months) while they struggle to find more permanent housing.

The base has 1,682 singles quarters beds, the majority of which are usually used for trainees. Although capacity has not been an issue to this point, Hutchinson said allowing members to stay after training is a short-term fix “since these quarters must be prioritized for training and operational requirements in the long term.”

“This is one of the things that I’m constantly aware of, constantly concerned about, just making sure that sailors have a safe place to live. Anytime we’ve gotten wind of or heard of a case or member has presented that they’re having difficulties, we’ve taken immediate steps to try and rectify the situation.”

The Canadian Forces Housing Agency is looking at starting a national housing program that would expand housing offerings for members, including in Victoria, he added.

A recent analysis of the most expensive rental markets in Canada found Greater Victoria was the fourth-most expensive in the country, with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the region costing $1,880 in June, up 2.2 per cent from May, while median rent for a two-bedroom was $2,350, which actually dropped six per cent from May.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria remains 4th most expensive rental market in Canada: report


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