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One-in-six Metro Van renters face landlord discrimination, survey finds

A recent survey of Metro Vancouver residents shows that one in six respondents have been discriminated against by their landlords over age, disability, sexual orientation, language or lack of credit history.

Participants also complained about the city's lack of affordability and poor living conditions, including exposure to mold, rot and other dangerous materials. Seventy-three per cent of surveyed renters reported spending more than one-third of their income on housing, indicating they did not have money to spend on other things.

"For people who are most at risk for becoming homeless, these results are a big concern," said Penny Gurstein, director of UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning, who led the survey. "Vulnerable people have difficulty finding housing and this compounds the other issues they are facing."

The study, conducted by the Housing Justice Project, aimed to capture the experiences of people grappling with affordability issues, such as low-income residents, senior citizens, immigrants and refugees. Over the course of a year a total of 222 responses --179 online and 43 printed -- were collected.

In total, 17 per cent of respondents reported discrimination. New immigrants said they were rejected because they didn't have a credit history and references. Younger people alleged they were discriminated against based on age, and some young women reported harassment or intimidation by landlords.

Over half of the survey's respondents also said they were considering moving in the next two years. The most commonly cited reasons for considering moving were affordability, desire for a larger home and greater access to public transit.

Gurstein recognizes the survey results are not representative of the general Metro Vancouver population, but she believes her findings provide critical information about the issues of housing access and affordability the region is currently facing.

"While these results are not surprising, they point to the work that needs to be done to address housing affordability, stability and solutions for low-income residents," said the professor.

Emi Sasagawa is completing a practicum at The Tyee. Find her previous stories here.

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