Report: More seniors considered low-income than ever before

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A new report by United Way of BC finds more seniors are considered low-income than ever before.

According to the 67-page report Aging in Uncertainty, 15.2 per cent of seniors were considered low-income in 2021, up five percentage points from 2020.

“We shouldn’t be surprised (considering) the policies that have been put in place…and the lack of affordable housing coming online for a number of years,” said Sylvia Ceacero, Alliance to End Homelessness in the Capital Region.

“We should not be surprised in seeing what is happening today.”

Ceacero, the alliance’s executive director, says seniors’ income has stagnated or had minimal increases.

According to the report, if a senior is solely dependent on government benefits for their income, 78 per cent would go directly to rent.

The report says benefits from OAS, GIS and the BC Seniors Supplement total $1,841.35 a month. The average rent in B.C. in 2022 was $1,432 a month.

“It is very difficult to help house. We have, for example, in the last two years had one gentleman, a 72-year-old man, who was getting his cancer treatment at the hospital and sleeping in his car,” said Deborah Hollins, Executive Director of Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Hollins says it’s proven to be difficult to find housing in the area for her clients.

Between 2017 and 2022, there was only a 0.1 per cent increase in subsidized units with rent geared towards 30 per cent of the senior’s income.

In contrast, housing supplies subsidized for 50 per cent of their income decreased by six per cent.

The population has boomed by 20 per cent in the last five years.

“A healthy neighbourhood needs to have housing choices all along the housing continuum. That includes affordable seniors housing that includes market rate, purpose-built rental housing for the workforce,” said Melanie Ransome, Aryze Development’s communications director.

Aryze Developments announced it is partnering with Legion Manor Victoria to build affordable housing for seniors in Central Saanich.

One hundred and ninety-five units are being proposed that would consist of studio apartments and 1- and 3-bedroom homes. Currently, the project is in the application stage, made possible after Aryze sold the land it was being proposed at a discount to Legion Manor Victoria.

“It’s a dream for the people in this area,” said Shirley Monych, a resident.

“It’s a long time coming. As you know, we’ve tried this in the past. This would be our third time. So third time lucky,” said Rod Hughes, Legion Manor Victoria president.

According to the housing complex, there is currently a two to five-year waitlist.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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