As 2022 takes the stage, there are so many year-in-review titles cities and provinces might want to win. Being the “Eviction Capital of Canada” isn’t one of them.
Sadly, and perhaps even surprisingly, a newly released University of British Columbia study has just branded Metro Vancouver Canada’s “Capital of Eviction.”
The study reveals that this region’s eviction rates are nearly double the national average. It’s a tragic spike in the pandemic’s aftermath, particularly now, with eviction moratoriums archived as a relic of the past.
One of the first to attempt to support the suspected uptick in eviction trends with hard data, the study concluded that approximately 10.6% of renters across British Columbia had endured an eviction in the past five years. Knowing that renters in this region have a one in ten chance of becoming evicted in the next five years is a sobering statistic. For some, it was even shocking.
About the Study: Understanding Evictions in Canada
Funded by the UBC’s Balanced Supply of Housing Research Cluster, this study is part of an initiative to reshape the financialization of housing in Canada by quantifying the persisting problem of modern eviction. The research was collected and authored by Silas Xuere, a recent graduate and award-winning student currently the research lab management director of Betterment Labs.
Under UBC’s Assistant Professor of Economics Andrea Craig and research coordinator Craig Jones, Xuere based his estimates on the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey. This consists of over 5,000 records and covers all ten provinces and the three territorial capitals.
The study exhibits the profoundly negative impact of the quiet doubling of housing prices that has taken place in Canada over the past 15 years. Many advocates anticipated high eviction rates, but few expected a number like one in ten to come out of any region, particularly British Columbia.
Why is Metro Vancouver and, for that Matter, All of BC so Vulnerable to Eviction?
Global News reports that the overwhelming majority of people in this region are long-term renters, a fact that only serves to make these numbers more devastating. In that piece, Vancouver is described as a “city of renters” that is not a “city for renters,” which speaks volumes about the root of the problem.
According to CBC, the culprit is excessive rents rising much faster than they are nationwide. This startling trend incentivizes landlords to move in the direction of eviction. New renters are willing to pay more, which means older renters are kicked out in the cold.
According to the study, falling into at least one of the following categories increases the likelihood of eviction:
- a single parent
- between the ages of 45 and 54
- of First Nations descent
On the other end of the spectrum, children were also more at-risk. Other underlying factors, such as racism against renters in predominantly black neighborhoods, were also at play.
While this research sheds a lot of light on the sheer number of regional residents at risk for homelessness by way of eviction, the author takes this even further by identifying sociological and socio-economic impact.
What Happens to the One out of Ten Renters Who Get Evicted in Metro Vancouver?
If you’ve never experienced an eviction, you might not know firsthand the horror of coming home to a locked door, of staring at your inaccessible belongings on the other side of that door and not knowing which way to turn. For many unfortunate victims of eviction, homelessness is a mere streetlamp away.
Renters with an eviction record are less likely to be approved for a new place. Even if approved, they will likely experience a massive 20% rent increase. This is a massive weight for an individual already having trouble making ends meet. And since the vast majority of renters who wind up evicted were already spending more than 50% of their rent on housing, this additional 20% hike could easily be the straw that breaks them.
A harrowing state of homelessness awaits those who cannot overcome these hurdles. But there’s more on the horizon even still. This study identifies several other conditions that can arise from eviction.
Taking a Toll on the City: How Eviction Hurts Renters and Communities
The final section of this report is evidence of the real people whose misfortunes have been quantified in these statistics. The author/researcher reveals a statistically significant link between eviction and poor mental or physical health.
Renters whose last move was an eviction were found to be less optimistic and to exhibit lower self-esteem. These individuals exhibited lower satisfaction with their current living situation and overall lower quality of life. They were also three percentage points more likely to be identified as “core housing need” and significantly more likely to exhibit poor physical health.
As we navigate a pandemic, we have seen how physical and mental health declines can cripple communities. On a larger scale, we have witnessed the world come to a grinding halt in the name of public health. As it stands, one in ten Canadians in Metro Vancouver needs this same kind of uninterrupted attention. Their plight is prevalent. Someday soon, it could even be yours.
Study supervisor Craig Jones hypothesized what a “healthy eviction rate” should be. The answer is zero percent. There is nothing healthy about eviction.
Contact your representatives and ask them what they’re doing to protect the one in ten renters at risk of becoming homeless by way of eviction in Metro Vancouver.