A couple of weeks ago I took part in a discussion group sponsored by Vancouver City Hall regarding accessible housing in Vancouver. One of the key take aways for me was there is going to be a lot more accessible housing coming online over the next few years. How much will be depended a lot of factors, not the least of which, is the dedicated lobbying of many seniors and people with disabilities. I wont get into the complicated subjects around the issue here but to state that an increase of the number of accessible housing is a good thing that is desperate needed and I hope that increase in Vancouver is also reflected in an increase all across metro Vancouver and the lower mainland.
I also hope that these new accessible housing units will be kept in private hands and not handed over to Metro Vancouver Housing. For those who don’t know Metro Vancouver Housing is the organization that has responsibility for housing within the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Its taking over for BC Housing and other Municipal housing organization within the region with the idea that a single organization will provide greater efficiency for those looking for housing. Metro Housing has also taken over may of the Co-ops in Vancouver, and I assume other cities as well but I am not sure about that, as well. So, as it stand right now if you are looking for accessible housing in the GVRD you have to deal with Metro Vancouver Housing and only Metro Vancouver Housing. Oh, sure there still the possibly of private sales but those are as rare as hens’ teeth now a days.
Now I admit that I’ve had my issues with Metro Vancouver Housing, both in the past and currently. But even if they were the best land lords in the world I would not want them to have a monopoly on accessible housing. I would like to see real competition with several groups offering accessible housing so that there was real choice for people with mobility issues when it comes to housing. So that we could not only choose where we live but who are land lord is. As well for those of us blessed with enough money that we can afford something that isn’t social housing that we are not treated like that’s the only choice we have.
All this is complicated with another problem as large which is the difficulty in hooking up people with disabilities with the ones with the disability suites in the first place. There is a need within the region for an organization that has a list of accessible suites and the people who need them. Such a organization should be at arm length from various landlords (including Metro Vancouver Housing) to avoid conflict of interest issues, and to not recreate the problems that were currently have.