The latest homeless count in Metro Vancouver shows the number of seniors over 55 living on the streets is on the rise.
Numbers jumped from 212 in 2008 to 518 this year. Seniors now represent 23 per cent of the homeless population.
NPA Councillor George Affleck believes both the City of Vancouver and the province have been neglecting senior housing developments.
“Since I’ve been elected, I haven’t seen very many major projects for seniors projects come to us, which is interesting and I wonder why.”
He said he’s seen a few healthcare projects but nothing specifically in terms of housing for seniors with low income.
“In the 1970’s, I remember my grandmother lived in the Lions Club development in Langley and it was all built by the Lions Club through partnerships with the city there in Langley as well as the federal government through tax subsidies. That kind of stuff happened a lot in the 70’s for seniors and I don’t see any of that happening anywhere, to be honest,” said Affleck.
Meanwhile, seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said it’s about rentals rather than homeownership.
“There is a need for seniors to remain in the community where their support network is because they need those people to help them,” said Mackenzie.
“And if seniors find themselves with rent rising, that they can no longer afford to live there and move somewhere else, that’s particularly problematic.”
She said the government shouldn’t be “penny-wise” when it comes to seniors, to avoid having long-term facilities and hospital beds occupied by seniors who are there because they can’t afford rent.
The latest count shows more than 3,600 people are considered to be homeless in Metro Vancouver.