Metro Vancouver has seen a sharp uptick in its queue for social housing in the past year, with now more than 18,800 households on the waitlist.
The queue is mostly made up of seniors and families, according to advocates.
The Office of the Seniors Advocate said the process is too slow and seniors are facing challenges for housing.
“The speed at which all this moves … imagine yourself 85 years of age and you have to find a place to rent. You last tried to rent a place 40 years ago and now, suddenly, you’re dealing with 300 people lining up to rent an apartment,” Isobel Mackenzie said, a seniors advocate at the office.
“The whole movement to online … some seniors will be able to adapt to but some won’t. (Seniors) do not have the income that would appear to support the rent they have to pay so landlords will choose (someone else).”
Makenzie has previously said she is extremely concerned regarding senior evictions
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The housing data book for December 2023 shows BC Housing’s waitlist has grown by 27 per cent since 2022, which includes 21 municipalities.
According to the data, homeless has risen 33 per cent since 2022, despite efforts from government to build more supportive housing. It also said low vacancy rates in Metro Vancouver has led to rent doubling since 2022, including a 30 per cent jump in median rental rates in the last five years.
The DTES SRO Collaborative said the issue of the lack of social housing is only expected to get worse.
“Of course, the waiting list is getting higher and I promise you the numbers will get even higher soon,” Wendy Pederson said, DTES SRO Collaborative’s founder and executive director said.
“We need a plan in B.C. that takes into account the facts, such as how many low-income rentals we have, how many we’re losing, and what people need.
“The percentage of social housing that we have in British Columbia is very, very low and what we do have, of course, needs upgrading.”
B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon was unavailable for an interview but did supply a statement through email regarding the uptick in the queue.
— With files from Canadian Press
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