British Columbia·WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

Senior struggles to find affordable housing in Vancouver

Stew Brinton is struggling to find a rental apartment that fits his budget. The 71-year-old Vancouver man has been evicted from his apartment because the landlord wants to renovate the place.

It's a story too common among seniors, says executive director of the Seniors Services Society

Stew Brinton is 71-years-old and is struggling to find a rental apartment that meets his budget. A tale too common, says Kara-Leigh Bloch, the executive director of the Seniors Services Society. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

Stew Brinton has three months to move out from the place he has called home for over a decade.

The 71-year-old from Vancouver was handed an eviction notice last week.

"The owner is renovating in order to jack up the rent. The family above me and I are being thrown out on the market," he said. 

Brinton says he has looked at every option available, including basement suites and shared accommodation. He is happy with anything that is available for $700 a month along the 135 bus route. 

He is hopeful to find a place by January or otherwise he fears he will be homeless. 

Too common

It is a story too common among seniors in the city, says Kara-Leigh Bloch, executive director of Seniors Services Society — a non-profit agency that provides local and provincial programs and services to help seniors live as independently as possible. 

"We are working with 1,500 clients a year that are labeled as homeless, so they are already on the street or couch surfing or are at risk of being homeless with eviction notices in 30 days," she said.

Bloch says they turn away the same number of people because their hands are tied. 

"At the end of the day, we have to prioritize clients based on need.  So if someone is homeless or at risk — someone like Stew doesn't beep red light as being the most priority — because he has three months," she said. 

Government's role

Bloch says various levels of government need to step in to help seniors. 

"It's absolutely huge. The numbers of seniors are growing and the cost of living is rapidly picking up.

"Seniors are just falling through the cracks," she said.

Bloch is critical of the federal government's Housing First program — it provides financial support to address homelessness. 

"But in reality it doesn't help seniors. The senior has to be homeless for a 180 days before money in that program [is received]," said Bloch. 

The federal government says it has committed to investing $1.9 billion over 8 years through it's Investment in Affordable Housing program. But provinces and territories receive the money and are then in charge of program design and delivery.

A full list of affordable housing programs in B.C. is available on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's website. 

What's your story?

This story is part of a special CBC Vancouver News series, What's Your Story? The series focuses on issues pitched by our audience about what matters to them. 

If you have a story to pitch about an issue in your community, send it to mylocalstory@cbc.ca


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Vancouver senior struggles to find an affordable rental apartment with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

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