“Vital Signs” Report Highlights Unaffordability Problems

The Victoria Foundation’s new Vital Signs report provides data and survey results that rate our community and identify problems. Here is the full report, “Vital Signs”, and here is a Times Colonist summary, “Half of Greater Victoria residents say mental health has declined: Vital Signs report.

These results indicate that unaffordability and mental stress are broad issues that affect a large portion of the population. Although the report is rather long, it is very readable and includes interesting graphics and survey respondent quotes.

Respondents’ top three issues (out of twelve):

  1. Cost of living
  2. Housing
  3. Homelessness

Of twelve quality of life indictors, the largest change is a decline from B- to D+ for “Getting Started” (ability of young people and immigrants to become established in the community). Specifically, 73% of survey respondents believe that newcomers and 82% of young adults lack affordable housing.

The survey also found that 17% frequently feel lonely, 22% lack loving family and friends, and 37% do not know their neighbors. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 29% have lost income, 40% feel a decline in physical health, 51% feel a decline in mental health, and  60% are experiencing worse stress.

Vital Signs references a recent CRD study, Housing and Transportation Cost Estimate Study 2020 for the Capital Regional District which found that household transportation expenses tend to be lower in areas with more transportation options and more mixed-use development such as Victoria, southern Saanich, and Sidney, and higher in more automobile-dependent areas. Most survey respondents find it easy to get around by walking, bicycling and driving, but rate public transit service very low.

This highlights the importance of increasing affordable housing and transportation options, providing opportunities for neighborhood interactions and friendships, support healthy lifestyles (such as more physical activity, such as walking and bicycling), and help for people experiencing mental stress and illness.

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