EDITORIAL: Affordable housing crisis a reality for seniors

The Alberni Valley has a problem with affordable housing for seniors.

The rental dispute happening with Pioneer Cottages outlines a far larger problem in the Alberni Valley: affordable housing for a growing population living on a fixed income.

While residents at Pioneer Cottages are facing rental increases due to an unexpected tax bill of $40,000 a year (where they were previously covered under a tax exemption) and lack of a capital replacement reserve fund, the struggles they and their seniors’ housing society are going through is something that is doomed to be repeated if various levels of government don’t pay attention.

B.C.’s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie in a 2015 report noted that half of the province’s seniors live on $24,000 or less, and 50,000 are living on $20,000 or less. These incomes will not rise, but rents will.

There are subsidy options available for low income seniors, but how long the provincial government can continue to subsidize rents as the numbers of seniors rises remains to be seen.

Port Alberni has seen some of its low income housing lost to fire over the past five years, with many of those units not replaced.

If we want to be a place where seniors come to settle in their retirement years, we are going to need to offer them a place to live. It’s time to start getting creative on how we can go about doing that.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS