Canada’s housing crisis reinforces violence against poor women

published on July 10, 2018 by Alexandra Collins in The Conversation

Canadian cities are in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. Lax housing policies and lending practices, along with a previously non-existent national housing strategy have converged, contributing to record-level housing and rental prices.

Cities such as Toronto and Vancouver are most affected, with smaller cities like Montréal and Victoria also dealing with the impact of rising mortgage interest rates.

Efforts aimed at controlling the crisis, including foreign buyer taxation measures and provincial housing strategies, have yet to address the limited availability of housing. This twin (un)affordability and availability crisis is affecting all demographics across Canada.

However, those most marginalized by poverty — especially low-income women — are impacted most acutely, largely due to housing instability, residential evictions and other barriers such as stigma.

This means women are more likely to experience “invisible homelessness,” such as staying temporarily with family or a friend. This likelihood can be exacerbated by gender-based violence.
Housing instability in Vancouver

Vancouver has continued to be ranked among the most “livable” cities in the world — livable being a relative term.

Despite what the algorithms show, Vancouver now boasts the most expensive housing market in Canada, with rents having significantly increased for the third consecutive year and vacancy rates among the lowest in the country.

The rapid urban development of particular neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver has led to an influx of high-end luxury apartments and diminishing low-income rental housing stock.

Despite persistent efforts by community groups to retain low-income housing, residential evictions are commonplace among people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood — an approximate 10-block area that contains 94 per cent of the city’s single-room accommodation (SRA) housing. This is also one of the neighbourhoods most affected by North America’s overdose crisis.

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