If you’re a pet owner, you know that your furry friend is like family. But for homeless seniors who rent in Vancouver, finding a home that welcomes pets can be a challenge.
According to a recent study by the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta that examines policies and decision-making around companion animals in social housing in Edmonton, “Pets are commonly viewed as family members or as close friends and can perform duties as service and emotional support animals, and are often important companions for the elderly, for people with disabilities, people living in social housing, soldiers and veterans, students and people affected by autism, homelessness, and unemployment. (McCabe, Brown, et al. 2021) In Canada, 19% of people who experience homelessness are pet owners. (Hwang and O’Grady (2021), University of Guelph.)
SSSBC is seeing a rise in homeless seniors who require pet-friendly apartments; however, the availability of rentals that can accommodate them is few and far in between. Our housing navigators are doing their best to find housing partnerships to accommodate pets, but it is a difficult task.
Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.
Pet-friendly rental properties available are scarce. Landlords may not want to allow pets because of concerns about noise or odors. Some landlords are hesitant to rent to pet owners because they’re worried about damage to their property. Additionally, multi-unit building strata may restrict pets, which can make it difficult for seniors to find a place that’s both affordable and pet-friendly.
Seniors on a fixed income may struggle to afford pet-friendly housing. Landlords often charge higher fees or security deposits to cover the cost of any potential damage caused by pets, which can be a financial burden for seniors.
Ageism and other biases can make it even harder for homeless seniors to find a pet-friendly home. Some landlords may discriminate against seniors or hold negative stereotypes about them and their pets.
While there are barriers that make it difficult for homeless seniors who are renters to find pet-friendly homes, there are solutions. Landlords can be encouraged to reconsider their policies and protect their properties without discriminating against responsible pet owners. Non-profits and government agencies can also work to increase the availability of affordable pet-friendly housing for seniors. SSSBC maintains a small list of pet-friendly rentals in its housing directory and continues to search for building managers and housing partnerships to increase our resources for seniors.
Pets provide love, comfort, and companionship to their owners, and that shouldn’t be denied to seniors facing difficult times. By working together, we can ensure that homeless seniors and their furry friends have a safe and comfortable place to call home.
SSSBC can use your help! If you are a landlord or building manager with a pet-friendly apartment or know someone with one, contact our office at 604-520-6621.
Erin McCabe, Cary A. Brown, Maria C. Tan, Douglas P. Gross, Donna M. Wilson, Eloise Carr, Jean E. Wallace & Maxi Miciak (2021) Does Fido have a foot in the door? Social housing companion animal policies and policy decision-making in a Canadian city, Housing, and Society, 48:3, 292-313, DOI: 10.1080/08882746.2021.1881745