Renters in British Columbia are facing a crisis when it comes to how much they’re spending on housing, according to a newly released rental index.

Nearly one-quarter spend more than half of their income on rent, and that’s far too much, according to the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association’s Rental Housing Index.

The index also found that nearly half of B.C. renters spend more than 30 per cent on rent.

That disproportionate spending could force people into some tough situations, according to BCNPHA executive director Tony Roy.

“For a quarter of renters who’re spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, it’s a critical level of overspending that presents to them all kinds of other risks in real life,” he said.

Those risks include not having enough money for food, more incentive to commit crimes and in some cases, homelessness, Roy said.

“Those costs get extremely high for us as taxpayers,” he said. “One night in a hospital, a jail or in some sort of critical care situation costs way more than a month’s rent.”

Part of the problem is a lack of resources for renters.

“I think for renters, there’s not been a lot of data out there saying ‘If I make this much, how much can I afford to spend in terms of my rent and where can I get those options?’”

The non-profit is concerned that the rental crunch isn’t going to get better anytime soon. Roy says rental stock is decreasing and the federal government isn’t putting more money into social housing, creating a crunch for low-income renters.

The index looked at affordability in 100 communities for a range of income groups, based on census data from 2011.

Vancouver had the seventh-highest gross rent in the province at $1,028 a month while West Vancouver topped the list at $1,555 a month.

Here’s a look at some of the highest gross rental rates around the province, according to the BCNPHA:

  • West Vancouver: $1,555
  • Whistler: $1,464
  • District of North Vancouver: $1,268
  • Port Moody: $1,218
  • West Kelowna: $1,171
  • Vancouver: $1,089

For the full list and for a more in-depth look at rental affordability in our province, visit the BCNPHA's website.