Seniors in P.E.I. are feeling the housing crisis more than most, with rising rental costs outpacing fixed incomes for retirees or welfare.

Ask Valérie Arsenault.

The Charlottetown woman’s landlord took the names of several tenants in the Kensington Road apartment building where she lives, put them in a hat and pulled one out.

The “winner” would have to give up his home so that his son could move in.

“I received an eviction notice on October 4 because my landlord has a family member who is moving from British Columbia, Arsenault told CBC News, adding that it is difficult to lose a house in which she has spent the past six years.

According to the province’s website, more than 350 Islanders are registered with the PEI Social Housing Registry, including 88 for the seniors’ housing program specifically. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

She appealed the opinion to the island’s Regulatory and Appeals Board and won – initially. However, its owner proved to the satisfaction of the commission in December that he needed the unit for personal use, with his son planning to move in. This is one of the permitted grounds for the type of expulsion that Arsenault faces.

Arsenault is on welfare and said she could only afford about $750 in rent, including heat and light. She said she doesn’t think she can find a new place that fits her budget.

“That’s not the case for pets in the Charlottetown area because I don’t have a car. So where I’m at right now I’m really close to the bus stop, so it’s is absolutely perfect for me,” she said.

“People are renting out rooms in their house for more than I’m allowed.”

Under the PEI social assistance program, clients can receive a maximum of $794 per month to pay for one-bedroom accommodation. This money is also intended to cover heating and electricity costs.

In January, the province added $4.5 million in spending to increase living allowance rates to cover the cost of food and other basic needs, but housing rates remained unchanged.

Son also needs a home, says landlord

Arsenault was told she had to be released by January 31, but after some recent health issues, she was given a few extra weeks to leave.

Landlord Gary Jenkins would not do a taped interview, but told CBC News he was renting accommodations as little as possible and that his son also needed a place to stay in a tight housing market. He said he felt sorry for Arsenault and understood that she was on a fixed income. He intends to give her a good reference to show when looking for a new home.

What needs to happen, Jenkins said, is for the government to add more money to social service programs, given rising rents.

“The parent shouldn’t be able to take back their property because the owner owns it,” says Connor Kelly. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

The situation is not unique. Connor Kelly, of the PEI Fight for Affordable Housing, said he had received calls about other people being evicted from housing for “personal use”.

He doesn’t think giving a unit to a parent should fall into that category when it comes to kicking other people out.

“If it’s an eviction for personal use, only the landlord should be allowed to apply – for example, the parent shouldn’t be able to repossess their property because it’s the landlord who owns the house. property,” he said.

Upcoming changes to tenancy law

The province of Prince Edward Island recently completed a round of consultations on a new draft Residential Tenancies Act. The current law is 30 years old.

In the most recent draft, a tenant would be given twice as much notice to vacate a unit when it is wanted for personal use, with the period ranging from two months to four.

Kelly said it’s not “really a protection” for tenants, however; it just gives people more time to try to find another place to live.

What is needed, according to landlord Gary Jenkins, is for the government to add more money to social service programs, given rising rents. (Radio Canada)

Arsenault said she applied for help through the Prince Edward Island Seniors Housing Program, which offers either rental subsidies or spaces in buildings funded by the government, but has not yet received a response.

According to the province’s website, there are more than 350 Islanders on register who are waiting for help with social housing, of which 88 are specifically waiting for help from the housing program for the elderly.

“Once an application is submitted for seniors housing, it takes about a week for it to be reviewed, and then a housing officer will follow up on the application to complete a formal assessment,” officials said. from the Department of Social Development and Housing to CBC News in a statement. E-mail.

If an assessment shows the applicant meets the eligibility requirements, after considering things like income and current living conditions, the person is placed on the list as needing help, the e says. -mail.

We need more low-income housing, senior-friendly housing, because they are the ones who fall through the cracks.—Valerie Arsenault

The province said those on the registry can call Housing Services for an update on their case.

Arsenault is still waiting.

She doesn’t know what her next step will be. She said she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of ​​having a roommate, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, she and many other Islanders are just a check away from living on the streets, she said.

“What I think is really needed is that we need more low-income housing, senior-friendly housing, because they’re the ones falling through the cracks in the system.”