As house prices soar, so does the cost of renting an apartment.
One-bedroom apartments in Ladysmith are now renting for $1,000 or more per month. Yet people who have an intellectual/developmental disability receive $375 per month for their rent costs through the B.C. government’s person with disability assistance program.
Private rental housing is financially out of reach for people with developmental disabilities. Plus, they often face discriminatory views about their ability to live independently and landlords are less willing to rent to them, according to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation report from last year.
Social housing is often the only housing option for persons with developmental disabilities. However, such housing has long waitlists and the processes for applying are complex. Most small communities have very limited social housing – currently Ladysmith has none that are accessible.
In Ladysmith, adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities usually live with their parents for extended periods of time. But parents are aging and many parents are facing their own health problems and increasing disabilities. People with developmental disabilities are at very high risk of homelessness once their parents can no longer support them. Statistics show that they’re four times more likely to be the victims of abuse than other British Columbians, according to Inclusion B.C.
Parents are afraid for the future of their adult children with developmental disabilities.
This is the situation of a group of Ladysmith families who have adult children face. Sandra Marquis and Sheila McMillan are two of those parents. They have been struggling for years to find stable housing for their adult children. Sandra’s daughter Camille has lived in six different places in Ladysmith in nine years and had to leave her last basement suite after it flooded twice.
“Our children want to live independently just like non-disabled adults,” said Marquis. “With some supports they can do it and they will thrive. But financially they are dependent on a disability allowance that is decades out of touch with the reality of rental costs. Without subsidized housing, living safely and independently is out of reach for them.”
McMillan agreed, saying that even with a part-time job, her daughter Amy cannot afford to pay “anything close” to market rental rates.
Marquis and McMillan are not the only parents in the community who are stressed about the future of their adult children with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Together with parents in a similar situation, they are seeking solutions. They are part of a group called the supported housing committee, with the aim of creating housing options for persons with developmental disabilities.
In a time when there is a housing affordability crisis across the province and young families are shut out of home ownership, it is easy to forget that there are vulnerable populations where this crisis is not just about home ownership but about the probability of homelessness, the committee said. Discrimination and failure to provide reasonable supports not only hurts the families of these individuals, it harms the well-being of the community, they said.
Parents or guardians of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities or those or wish to offer help to the group are asked to contact Marquis at firstname.lastname@example.org.