The high rental prices in British Columbia are taking a toll on Canadians and most especially on seniors as for the first time in their lives they are left stranded trying to find rental housing. Some seniors are left with no option but to relocate to another community that has affordable rental housing.
For seniors that have low income earnings or are retired are having a tough time trying to adjust to the high rents in Metro backed by the low vacancy level.
John Young a 69 year old former business instructor with the YMCA is seeking help from the Seniors Services Society who are trying to help him find long-term housing as he became homeless after a disagreement with his roommate. He has been staying with a friend for the past three years, as his $1,600 pension money was not sufficient enough to pay his rent.
Young stated that “I spent a week sleeping on concrete in an underground parking lot. My only possession was my backpack and with a senior’s bus pass, I was able to move around during the day,” it was a total shock he added in tears.
The thought kept running to him that in the past he was helping people to begin their own business and now he was homeless.
But Young is not the only senior going through this predicament as approximately 20% of the 850,000 seniors in British Columbia are renters on fixed incomes with half of the figure living on an income less than $30,000. And these are the same seniors that are feeling the pinch of the high renting prices in Metro Vancouver and Victoria.
The Senior Services Society, a non-profit organization in Metro Vancouver aids as many as 200 seniors each month that are homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless.
According to Brian Dodd manager of operations, it comes as a shock that such a large number of seniors are faced with housing issues, and it is turning to a major concern as the number continues to increase.
Mike Shaw and his wife Jaynee Provick both seniors, explained that they never expected that they will almost become homeless after they relocated to Vancouver. They were quite unprepared for the hard time they will face in the city as they had to move from place to place in search of a reasonable rental home.
The couple were then directed to the Senior Services Society that provided them along with many other seniors a temporal unit for three to six months as they search for permanent housing.
Dodd highlighted that British Columbia needs more funds for affordable housing to prevent seniors making use of 30% of their incomes on rent.
He went on to say that Vancouver has the highest cost of living in Canada coupled with the lowest supply of rental properties.
There are an increased number of homeless seniors while some of them live in their cars, with some landlords stating that they do not want to rent to seniors that are disabled or in the worst scenario having a senior pass away in their apartments, explained Dodd.
According to the most recent statistic on Homeless Count which comprises seniors living in shelters, on the street or living with friends and family, there were 372 homeless seniors in Metro Vancouver in 2014.