‘Never thought I’d be here’: Nanaimo senior is homeless after escaping domestic violence


Behind the wheel of her orange rental car, 65-year-old “Ruth” blends in like any other senior on Nanaimo roads. But these are no golden years for her.

“I feel like a zero. I’m just an ordinary person but I don’t have a place to go to,” Ruth told CHEK News on Friday.

The retiree has fled a violent home and stayed in a domestic violence shelter in Nanaimo for 30 days, but now has nowhere to go.

“I slept in this car last night. Never thought I’d be here, no,” she told CHEK News.

The 65-year-old has filled out all the forms for rent support and programs that she can get her hands on, but said many are already capped out.

On a minimal pension, the Nanaimo woman doesn’t have enough to cover the high rents on Vancouver Island and is finding herself falling between cracks in a system that isn’t meeting the needs of seniors fleeing violence.

“And I’ve talked to women on the street who are elderly. Some in their 70’s who are literally living on the street, living out of little shopping carts. I thought, ‘That could be me,’ and right now, it’s about to be me,” said Ruth.

Nanaimo’s Haven Society, which offers programming and advocates for women fleeing violence, says Ruth’s story is being lived by women B.C.-wide.

“Ages like 50 to 65, there does seem to be a gap, because they don’t qualify for some of the seniors housing that’s out there, they don’t qualify for family housing. So there is a gap there and we are seeing it more and more,” said Heaven Society: Nanaimo/Oceanside executive director Darlene Jones.

More housing for women fleeing violence is expected to be built, but not in time for Ruth. So the senior now plans to move into a camper that she’ll have to move around daily, after finding even campgrounds are full too.

SEE ALSO: Nanaimo family moving to Alberta as housing crisis, inflation continues

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