According to a new report, with the cost of everything rising, retiring is not the luxury it once was, and some seniors are on the brink of losing their homes.
The report issued by United Way, and the coalition of BC Non-Profit community-based seniors’ organizations says seniors are struggling to secure affordable housing in the face of an increased cost of living, stagnant government retirement incomes, and a shortage of affordable housing.
The report finds 15.2 per cent of respondents are considered low-income. In 2020 one in four seniors in BC had an income of $21,800, after tax, which is almost $10,000 below the minimum wage.
Program and operations coordinator Laura Kadowaki says seniors in danger of losing their homes are mainly renters who are living on subsidized income.
“What we see is if you’re fully reliant on government benefits like old-age security, government supplements, and the BC Seniors Supplement those people are on the verge,” she says. “Their income is only about $1,841 per month.
“Rent is roughly $1,432 per month, which is about 78 per cent of their income to rent. This doesn’t leave much left for food, clothing and other essentials.”
According to the 2023 Greater Vancouver Homeless count, more than one in five of the region’s homeless are 55 and over. Kadowaki says United Way put the report out to educate people about some of the services and create adequate awareness.
“Along with awareness, we are looking to include policy recommendations and solutions that we’d like to see government, health authorities, and other stakeholders work together to implement,” she says. “We recognize this crisis is so big there is no one person, or level of government that can solve it.”
The province says when they put forward budget 2023, they refreshed the housing plan with $4.2 billion in operating and capital funding to build thousands of new homes for renters, people with middle incomes, Indigenous peoples and students through supportive and low-income housing.
Kadowaki says these models are an excellent idea, but unfortunately, there are not enough of them.
“Subsidized rent geared to income housing is where the renter pays no more than 30 per cent of their income to rent,” she says. “This is a great model because it provides guaranteed affordability, but it is stagnated.”
United Way aims to provide healthy, caring communities by strengthening vital connections to those in need.
-Files by Justin Baumgarnder, My Coast Now