Discover more from Vancouver Needs More Housing
Crowding near the bottom of the housing ladder
Housing is a ladder. When we don’t build enough market housing, the people who would have lived there don’t disappear - they move down the ladder, putting tremendous pressure on people closer to the bottom of the ladder. Their choices are to leave, or to crowd into substandard housing.
What this looks like: Justine Marcus and Miriam Zuk, “Displacement in San Mateo County, California” (May 2017).
Respondents described that, in order to secure housing in their same neighborhood or school district, or anywhere, they were forced to make difficult tradeoffs, including tolerating crowded and poor housing conditions. Crowding was a common problem for households. Respondents shared that the lower rents of a smaller apartment meant limited privacy and strains on relationships with family and friends with whom they were sharing a home.
They suffered from poor housing conditions even before being displaced:
Many low-income tenants face extremely poor-quality housing, and survey respondents in this study were no different. When asked about the conditions of the housing they were displaced from, one in three respondents reported pests (e.g., cockroaches, rats, etc.), one in three reported mold, and one in four reported broken appliances. Poor-quality housing conditions have serious implications for health. For example, pests, mold, and other allergens promote the development and exacerbation of asthma.
In Vancouver, Lisa Steacy at CTV has a series of stories describing how tiny spaces are being rented:
This Vancouver den for rent is so small the door won't close. It's also completely legal (June 2022). She quotes Robert Patterson of TRAC: “People who are splitting rental units in all these ways, it's often because they can't afford the rents they have to pay. Because they can't find anything affordable, they'll take something that's unaffordable and hope and try the best they can to get other people to split the cost with them.”