October 11, 2018 2:10 pm
Updated: October 11, 2018 10:56 pm

Housing crunch pushing even the suburbs out of reach of B.C. families: report

WATCH: New report says housing crisis now firmly rooted in Vancouver suburbs

A A

A new report suggests Metro Vancouver’s affordability crisis is surging into the suburbs, hammering low-income families on the brink of homelessness.

The report, co-authored by the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) and a UBC professor, has found that vacancy rates outside the city of Vancouver have dramatically decreased.

Story continues below

“Rents are way up, vacancy is way down, the crisis is spreading way out, and homelessness is worse, especially for women, mothers and single families,” said UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka.

READ MORE: Construction begins on modular housing for Surrey’s homeless

“We’ve seen this trend happening over a number of years, we’re really reaching kind of a boiling point,” said report author Penny Gurstein, with UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

“Before you could go into other communities like Surrey and Burnaby and New Westminster and find potentially affordable housing.”

However, according to the report, even those once-affordable suburbs are now out of reach of many British Columbians.

WATCH: City announces 1000 new units of affordable housing

Surrey’s vacancy rate fell from 5.7 per cent in 2012 to near zero last year. Burnaby now sits at 0.6 per cent, while New Westminster is at 1.1 per cent, the report found. Across the region, the overall rate is 0.9 per cent.

For families seeking multi-bedroom housing at the low end of the market, those numbers get even worse.

There has also been a 32 per cent increase in the number of Metro Vancouver families on B.C.’s housing registry since 2014.

Jackie Myerion and Jesse Kirkpatrick found thesmselves living in a tent in CRAB park with their two kids this summer, after being evicted from their Surrey basement suite.

Global News

That was the situation Jackie Myerion and Jesse Kirkpatrick found themselves in. The couple and their seven and nine-year-old children were forced out of their Surrey basement suite with just one month’s notice this summer.

Despite Kirkpatrick stopping work to house hunt full time, the family was unable to find anywhere to live within their budget.

Instead, they found themselves living in a tent in Vancouver’s CRAB park.

READ MORE: Housing advocates protest demolition of affordable Burnaby rental buildings

“We looked at like three places a day and we were just waiting for callbacks and we didn’t receive one back. We had no choice but to pack up and put our stuff in storage,” Kirkpatrick said.

“The kids thought we were camping… It was pretty stressful on us, but the kids didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

The family has since found housing through the UGM, but Hunka said they serve as a frightening example of how close to the edge some families are.

WATCH: ‘The kids just thought we were camping’: How one B.C. family were suddenly homeless

“It’s not as rare as we’d like to see. We don’t see it every day. Their situation is a bit more rare, but it’s not as rare as we want it to be,” he said.

“They were camping next to another family.”

WATCH: The growing lack of affordable housing in Metro Vancouver has forced more people to turn living in RVs.

Hunka said based on the findings of the report, the UGM is now expanding its outreach efforts to the suburbs.

It is also urging voters to hold housing and homelessness at top of mind when they head to the polls on Oct. 20.

The group has created an online portal where it has collected the housing and homelessness platforms from every Metro Vancouver mayoral candidate, and is urging people to read up on their stances.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Global News