Seniors in northeastern B.C. are facing housing uncertainty as they age, says Fort St. John non-profit, Save Our Northern Seniors.
The group will present a report authored by United Way B.C. to the Peace River Regional District this week.
The report, titled Aging in Uncertainty: The Growing Housing Crisis for B.C. Seniors, gathered insights from interviews with 16 seniors’ service and housing organizations.
“During this past year, the research shows that the numbers of people using the food bank, homelessness, people losing their homes because they cannot afford the rent or renovations has risen dramatically,” writes Margaret Little with the Fort St. John non-profit.
“A concerning trend unfolds as an increasing number of seniors, many in their 60s and 70s, teeter on the brink of homelessness for the first time,” notes the United Way report.
According to the report, the average 70-year-old senior who is dependent on government benefits would spend 78 percent of their income to rent a one-bedroom apartment in B.C. or roughly $1,432.
In B.C., one in four seniors has an income below $21,800, which is almost $10,000 below the minimum wage, and seniors’ rates of low income in the province are nearly double of any other age group at 15.2 percent.
Save Our Northern Seniors has also collected data on care facilities since 2005, explains Little, noting that decades earlier there were no facilities for seniors, or long waits for local spaces.
“In the early 1950s, there were no facilities for our loved ones to go and many people had to leave their home community to go to other places. We have had personal experience with having our loved ones sent away,” writes Little, noting her husband’s grandparents were sent to separate care facilities in the Okanagan, while his parents were sent to Pouce Coupe for 15 months in 1999 before a space was available in Fort St. John.