Impact of the Housing Affordability Crisis on Youth

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The #CHVCatchUp is a monthly series featuring the latest updates and news from Covenant House Vancouver (“CHV”). Miss604 is proud to be the Official Blog Partner of CHV. This month’s post has been written by Jason Bosher.

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Covenant House Vancouver Photo

The Importance of Housing

The connection between housing and a person’s health is incredibly strong: you simply cannot have good health without a home. Housing is so much more than having a roof over one’s head: it represents stability, safety, comfort, and hope.

The Housing Affordability Crisis

In recent years, the dream of finding a safe and affordable place to call home has become increasingly elusive for many young people in our community. Housing affordability has reached an all-time low, with rental prices soaring to unprecedented heights. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development now ranks Canada as having the most expensive housing market among all other G7 countries.  Metro Vancouver has witnessed a surge in competition for rental units, leaving countless young individuals struggling to secure a stable living environment.

Covenant House - Housing Crisis


Here’s some numbers to put this in perspective:

  • According to, the average unfurnished apartment in Metro Vancouver is $2,438/month (prices in the City of Vancouver are even higher)
  • A person who works full time, making minimum wage in BC, takes home approximately $2,030 per month
  • The maximum amount an individual can receive per month from income assistance is $610
  • The maximum amount an individual can receive per month from disability assistance is $983.50

At the heart of this crisis is the bleak reality of the dwindling number of affordable housing units.

Government supports, such as income assistance and disability benefits, fall significantly short of bridging the gap between youth’s needs and the average cost of rent. The difference between these inadequate resources and the actual cost of living only deepens the struggles faced by those we are committed to assisting.

For Youth, It’s More Than Just the Prices

Adding to the complexity of this issue are the unique barriers that youth experiencing homelessness encounter. From grappling with trauma, abuse, and mental health challenges, to growing up in foster care, to discrimination based on race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and ethnicity — the young people that Covenant House Vancouver works with face a plethora of challenges in addition to the cost of living.

Landlords often do not wish to rent to youth who lack essential life skills, employment history, or references. The absence of a supportive family or community network further compounds their difficulties, leaving them particularly vulnerable in the face of this housing crisis.

There Is Hope

CHV’s commitment to youth extends far beyond providing a roof over their heads. Addressing the housing crisis is not merely about housing; it’s a holistic approach that addresses the full spectrum of a young person’s needs. From enhancing essential life skills to fostering educational pursuits and improving employment readiness, our wraparound approach is designed to empower youth with the tools they need to thrive independently.

Last year:

  • 100% of youth who moved out of CHV’s Rights of Passage program transitioned to a stable setting and maintained their housing
  • 80% of youth improved or maintained their capacity to manage housing
  • In early 2024, CHV’s Rights of Passage program will expand its number of beds from 25 to 44

It Takes a Community

Deb Lester, CEO of Covenant House Vancouver summed up how we must work together to overcome this crisis: “As we look to the future, we’re certain of one thing: we cannot solve the housing crisis alone. The power of partnership — of likeminded souls uniting for a common cause — must be harnessed to provide youth with the housing and support they deserve.”

If you would like to support youth in the community, help them build essential skills and work towards independent housing, you can donate to Covenant House Vancouver — you will find many ways to get involved, here.

You can also write or call your MPs and MLAs and let them know that affordable housing must become a priority, in order for the community to thrive.

Follow Covenant House Vancouver on their social channels for more info.

Related: Food for Thought – Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Youth at Covenant House; Covenant House Vancouver Harm Reduction Foundations; Supporting the Mental Health of Youth in the Community; What’s Cooking at Covenant House?

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