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  • Bryce Schaufelberger

What is making housing options so horrible for people with disabilities in Metro Vancouver?

Updated: May 15

Written by Bryce Schaufelberger, Project Lead at

January 15, 2024

The housing market of BC is on my mind because I am feeling back to square one on

finding a good place to live and no idea where to go. It feels like our system of support

is unable to help find a suitable place to live. Options only really lead to not being

independent, not finding the right place, or finding no place at all.

I am in a situation where I have to move because the house is being sold. But nothing I

can find that matches my current place is affordable and the supports being offered are

depressing and stressful. I work and receive assistance. I see so many other people

becoming unhoused or being forced to live in senior housing when they are young. I see

so many things that show how bad our housing system is. Especially having a popular

housing for profit market is causing so many problems in our society. We are sacrificing

so much so people can make profit off of shelter – a human right.

We need to make serious changes and stop caving in to greedy people who create this

housing crisis without any regard for the people who are suffering without a good place

to live.

In British Columbia, supported housing options for people with disabilities include:

  • Accessible Housing Units: Some residential buildings offer units designed with accessibility features such as ramps, wider doorways, and adapted bathrooms.

  • Subsidized Housing: PWD may qualify for subsidized housing programs that provide affordable rental options. BC Housing is a key agency overseeing various affordable housing initiatives.

  • Supportive Housing: This type of housing combines affordable living spaces with on-site support services tailored to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

  • Home Adaptations: Programs and grants are available to help individuals modify their existing homes to make them more accessible, allowing PWD to age in place.

  • Assisted Living: For those who require some support but want to maintain independence, assisted living facilities provide a range of services while allowing residents to live in their own units.

  • Group Homes: Some PWD may choose to live in group homes where they share a living space with others and receive support services.

  • Shelter Allowance: A rent supplement program provides financial assistance to individuals with disabilities, enabling them to afford housing in the private market.

Despite these options, challenges such as limited availability and high demand persist,

making it essential to advocate for increased accessibility and affordability in housing for

people with disabilities in British Columbia. People are suffering and being forced to live

in cruel conditions. There is not enough affordable housing for people with disabilities,

many of whom work and volunteer in our communities across Metro Vancouver.

When you’re on disability assistance the amount of financial support you receive

depends on the size of your family. It also depends on whether another person in your

family has the Persons with Disabilities designation. HERE is a good help sheet put out

by Disability Alliance BC. The maximum monthly assistance a single person can receive is $1,483. This includes the Shelter Allowance of $500. People can work while receiving these benefits and can make a small amount before losing assistance support.

The average rent for a clean and decent one-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver is $2,000-$2,500 a month. And for a nice basement suite it will be at least $1,500 a month. The lack of affordable housing in British Columbia significantly impacts people with disabilities in many ways:

  • Limited Housing Options: A shortage of affordable housing restricts the available options for PWD, making it challenging to find suitable and accessible living spaces that meet their specific needs.

  • Financial Strain: High housing costs can impose a significant financial burden on PWD, potentially leading to difficulties in affording essential services, medications, and other necessities, affecting overall well-being.

  • Housing Instability: Without sufficient affordable housing options, PWD may face housing instability, including the risk of eviction or having to move frequently. This instability can contribute to stress and negatively impact mental health.

  • Dependency on Support Systems: Individuals with disabilities may become overly reliant on support systems, such as family and friends, due to a lack of available affordable housing. This can strain personal relationships and limit independence.

  • Social Isolation: Difficulty finding suitable housing may lead to social isolation as individuals may be forced to live in areas with limited community resources or be geographically distant from their support networks.

  • Barriers to Inclusion: Limited access to affordable and inclusive housing can contribute to the exclusion of PWD from community life. Adequate housing is essential for fostering participation, engagement, and social inclusion.

  • Health Implications: Inadequate housing conditions can have negative effects on physical and mental health. Lack of accessibility features may exacerbate existing health issues, and stress related to housing instability can contribute to overall health challenges.

Addressing the shortage of community-based and affordable housing through policy

initiatives, increased funding, and collaborative efforts is crucial to improving the living

conditions and overall quality of life for people with disabilities in British Columbia.

So many of the housing options out there for me, and many other people like me, are

not affordable or don’t meet a good quality of life centered around the individuals needs

and wants. For example, places will be a room the size of a box only without any

personal space for working, or have to live with a family that has kids, or the place won’t

allow dogs, or the places offered are only in homeshare or group homes. There is no

flexibility and no understanding of our needs as people. There needs to be innovation in

our system. There needs to independent living for those who can live on their own. And

these places should be a home not feel like jail. All people deserve to feel a part of the


People are unnecessarily suffering, being forced to choose unsafe housing situations,

or becoming unhoused due to the lack of support and understanding in our social

service systems. People forget that anyone can become disabled at any time in life.

These services help everyone. And every person deserves dignity and a safe, clean,

comfortable place to call home.

Housing options for people with disabilities in Metro Vancouver face challenges due to

factors like high housing costs, limited accessible housing, and a highly competitive

rental market. The shortage of affordable and accessible units, coupled with a growing

population, exacerbates the difficulties for individuals with disabilities in finding suitable

housing. Additionally, urban planning and development does not prioritize inclusive and

universal design, contributing to the overall limitations in housing accessibility.

Advocacy efforts are essential to address and rectify the inadequate housing situation,

ensuring that all people in British Columbia receive secure, stable and suitable housing,

promoting their well-being and social inclusion.

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