Seniors are the fastest-growing homeless demographic in Vancouver

“The fact that we are letting our seniors become homeless, to me just blows my mind.”

In Vancouver, seniors are the fastest-growing homeless demographic – one-quarter of the city’s homeless are older than 55.

Unless this is urgently addressed, things are likely to get worse, with large numbers of baby boomers expected to retire by the end of the decade and be surviving on fixed incomes in a city with out-of-control rent levels.

Researchers believe close to 100,000 Metro Vancouver seniors are living in poverty, and so at increased risk of losing housing.

The 2020 Metro Vancouver homeless count reported 550 people over age 55, who are one-quarter of all the region’s 2,200 homeless residents.

Vancouver’s 2019 count was similar, recording that 23 per cent of homeless people were over the age of 55.

“What the data is showing is that they are first-time homeless — they aren’t aging into homelessness,” Jenny Konkin, president of housing non-profit Whole Way House Society, told the Globe & Mail.

“The fact that we are letting our seniors become homeless, to me just blows my mind. They worked the hard jobs to build up our country and I feel like we just left them to kind of rot. So many of our seniors are so alone. It’s heartbreaking.”

The provincial government has committed to building 33,700 rental units over 10 years – promised in the 2018 BC provincial budget – but as the BC Non Profit Housing Association observes we continue to lose three low-cost rental homes for every new affordable home built.