It may be hard to believe, but Statistics Canada data shows that 52 per cent of senior renters (65+) in Metro Vancouver spend 30 per cent or more of their monthly income on rent, and 21 per cent spend half or more.
So how are low-income seniors expected to survive?
The ratio of rent to income directly affects our abilities to live healthy and thriving lives, and to have options aside from falling into precarious living conditions, or at worst, homelessness.
The roots of this crisis can be traced back to the early 1990s when the federal Liberal government drastically cut its investment in social housing and left provinces and cities scrambling to fill the gap.
A recent Vancity Credit Union report, Rent Race: The Growing Unaffordability of Rent in Metro Vancouver, calculates the average monthly market rent in Metro Vancouver as $1,144, which is considerably higher than the $765 per month maximum of the SAFER subsidy. Considering how little market rental stock is available to low-income people, it is alarming that subsidies are not keeping up with the real costs of housing in our region. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see more and more low-income seniors forced into precarious living conditions and homelessness every year.
The 2016 City of Vancouver Homeless Count showed that 204 homeless people in Vancouver (18 per cent of the homeless population) were over the age of 55. Startlingly, homelessness among seniors in Metro Vancouver has increased since 2008. The Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, which takes place every three years, showed that the increase in homeless seniors grew from 1 per cent to 3 per cent in 2011 and to 4 per cent in 2014
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