The BC Persons with AIDS Society (BCPWA) reported Sep 7 that the number of people who are disabled by HIV and are waiting for subsidized housing has ballooned by over 20 percent in the last year alone. BCPWA says there are over 800 HIV-positive residents without affordable, adequate shelter in Vancouver.
The maximum disability pension for those living with HIV is $856.42 per month.
“The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation calculates the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver to be $774 per month,” said BCPWA Chair Paul Lewand in a press release. “Obviously, it’s impossible for people with HIV who are on disability to afford adequate shelter.”
“The situation definitely qualifies as a crisis,” warned Ken MacDonald of Wings Housing Society in BCPWA’s press release. “Our goal is to ensure everyone living with HIV has adequate housing to enable them to fight this environmentally sensitive disease and right now we just can’t meet the need.”
“I’ve been waiting for three years,” says a man who is identified in the BCPWA press release only as Roger. “Right now, I’m paying $385 for a bug-infested room on Quebec St. I can’t afford to pay more and I don’t have much money for everything else I need: food, bottled water, vitamins, clothing and transportation. Usually there’s nothing left before I get to the end of the month.”
Government funding for AIDS groups in BC has remained static and private donations have declined over the past 10 years while the number of people living with HIV disease has more than doubled.