Vancouver has the highest rate of renter evictions of all major Canadian cities, a new report by University of British Columbia researchers has found.
The study released this month also contains damning results for the province: 10.6 per cent of B.C. renters reported being evicted within five years, more than any other province or territory.
By contrast, less than four per cent of renters were evicted in that timeframe in Manitoba, Quebec and Nunavut.
The author used data from the 2018 Community Housing Survey to make estimates for the five years prior to data collection, and found evictions are related to “poor health and economic hardship.”
“Among survey respondents, renters’ whose last move was an eviction have lower self-reported levels of health and mental health than other renters,” wrote Silas Xuereb, a postgraduate economics student at UBC.
“These renters also reported lower levels of life satisfaction, increased difficulty meeting their financial needs and were more likely to be in core housing need.”
The report, called Understanding Evictions in Canada through the Canadian Housing Survey, was funded by UBC’s Balanced Supply of Housing Research Cluster, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Statistics Canada.
The research was supervised by Andrea Craig, an assistant economics professor at UBC Okanagan, and Craig Jones, research co-ordinator for UBC’s Balanced Supply of Housing Research Cluster.
In the report, Xuereb said evictions were “widely acknowledged” as a public health problem during the pandemic, but generally speaking, little is known about who is most impacted by evictions in Canada and what the consequences are.
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“Because of that it’s hard to really know what a healthy eviction rate is, what a normal eviction rate is,” Jones, one of the study supervisors, told Global News.
“As far as I know, this is the first national attempt to get at that, and just the fact that B.C. in particular was much higher and significantly different from other provinces, I think is worth exploring through a policy lens.”
In total, the report estimated 1.3 per cent of Canadian renters were evicted in the year before the 2018 survey data was collected, and overall, men are slightly more likely to be evicted than women.
Evictions are further concentrated among adults between 45 and 54 years old, it said, in addition to single parents, and people who identify as First Nations.
“Although imprecise, I estimate that 12.3% experienced an eviction within 5 years,” Xuereb wrote of renters who identify as First Nations.
After controlling for other sociodemographic characteristics, he added, being aged 45-54, living in B.C. and spending more than 50 per cent of monthly income on shelter are “risk factors for eviction.”
Jones said he hopes the report’s finding that there is “something different” happening in British Columbia merits further discussion. Results from the Canadian Housing Survey for 2020 will be released in the years to come, he added, and the team will update its research at that time.
Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, said the study is evidence of the “precariousness” renters face, and the challenge Vancouver residents face when they aim to “set their roots.”
“One in 10 — I think that’s a pretty serious number — were forced to eventually move for any number of reasons,” he said in an interview.
“I think at the same time, when you have this type of eviction and move, if you’re trying to find a similar unit, it typically means there’s going to be a 20-per cent increase in rent.”
The majority of Vancouver residents have rented their homes since 1971, he added. It’s a city “of renters,” he said, but it’s not necessarily a city “for renters.”
The report further sheds light on the challenges faced by many Canadians when it comes to saving for retirement, said Yan.