Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Housing Part Two: Who needs housing?

I’m assuming that the majority of people reading this blog have some form of safe housing.  This is simply based on what I know about the demographics of those who comment.  However, I’m also going to make the assumption that at some point in our lives, all of us have had to, or will have to, look for housing.  Because the answer to who finds themselves in need of housing, is everyone.  It just happens that for some of us, it’s easier to find housing then for others. And so we’ll begin here, with situations that create that need.  This of course doesn’t cover all of them, but gives an example.

Apartments being turned into Condominiums

I don’t know what things are like in your part of the world, but where I live, apartment building after apartment building after apartment building is being bought, upgraded, turned into condos and it’s residents asked to vacate the premises.  While there are laws around timing of this, it is still a daily reality. 

Aging out

Perhaps it’s your parents telling you it’s time to find your own place, aging out of the foster care system or adolescent mental health system, perhaps you’re aging out of something else.  The point is an inevitability of life such as aging can play a huge impact on a persons need for housing. 

Separation, Divorce, Death of Spouse

When a family splits up a need for housing is often created for at least one of its members.  For example, a client of mine wound up homeless after he and his wife split up.  His wife and children stayed in their residence and he bounced from family member to family member until there was nowhere left for him. 

Lose or Change of employment/income

A person generally lives in housing for which the rent is paid by their income.  A change in income therefore can lead to a necessary change in housing.  Job loss by one member of the family, a decision to go back to school, the loss of benefits or other income bonuses can have a huge impact on the level of housing a family is able to afford. Income can also be lost due to disability, mental health concerns, long-term illness, addiction etc…

When everything goes wrong all at once

Maybe it starts with the car breaking down, then a family member becomes ill, rent increases, and then you lose your job.  Another client describes the lead up to being homeless as starting with one little thing and snowballing from there. 

Above Market Rent Increases

Where I live there is legislation governing how much rent can go up in a given year.  However, landlords can apply to increase rent over this if they can prove why they need to.  This can lead a person to no longer be able to afford their suite for no reason other then this, and it can happen to anyone. 


As people age, they develop the need for more assessable buildings.  Perhaps a building with an elevator instead of stairs.  Or maybe it’s a child who needs the assess ability.  Lots of reasons that you may need to look for a place with better access. 


1 comment:

cb said...

The 'turning apartments into condos' really surprised me. I have seen (through work) people trying to be pressured out of properties they have rented privately for decades because they were locked in to low rents... the forcing out is through lack of maintenance and it is one of the things that makes me really angry.
I can relate too because lack of accommodation can be said to have led me directly to my current career. I left uni and didn't have a job or anywhere to live so I signed up for some voluntary work where food and board were included - and so the path towards social work began!
There is nothing more stressful than looking for accommodation though and I know I have been very lucky - it is easy to see how people may slip through the nets.