Highlands resident Dawn Siegner says her younger brother has been unable to find rental accommodations for the last year. Dawn believes he his being discriminated against because of his disability. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Rental prices putting the squeeze on people with disabilities

Highlands resident says brother has been looking for places for the past year

Dawn Siegner is at the end of her rope.

For the last year, the Highlands resident has been trying to find her younger brother, who is disabled, a place to rent in Greater Victoria. She’s called dozens of places on his behalf, but is afraid his disability is affecting his ability to find a suitable place to live in an already tight rental market.

“I’m frustrated and heartbroken,” Siegner said.

“I just want people to look at those on disability as people. It doesn’t mean people are messed up … I just want to find people out there who have been down this road and can open their doors.”

Siegner’s brother did not want to publish his name for fear he could be investigated due to his living situation.

The 58-year-old’s troubles began about a year ago when he was living in an apartment in the Hillside/Quadra area.

Siegner’s brother is on disability and receives $1,150 a month.

When his roommate had to move out due to medical problems, Siegner’s brother was unable to pay the rent by himself and was forced to move out.

For the last four months, he’s been paying rent and sleeping in a friend’s dining room near Hillside Mall.

But trying to find a one-bedroom or bachelor suite for around $850 on a bus route has been a challenge.

Siegner has called numerous places for rent on her brother’s behalf that he’s found on sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji, and never receives call backs.

She’s inquired about renting hotel or motel rooms, but said they charge anywhere from $1,700 to $1,900 a month – hundreds of dollars above what her brother can afford to pay.

If Siegner’s brother can’t find housing, he’s fearful he’ll be out on the streets one day.

“I’m depressed and frustrated,” he said.

Siegner said they’re simply asking for an opportunity.

“He doesn’t even have the opportunity for a meeting. He really needs to find a place to live. It’s wreaking havoc on his mental state. It’s very depressing for him,” she said.

“We’re just asking for a chance. See us, meet us, let us have a look at the place, take our backgrounds … We just pray there’s somebody out there that will help.”

Dawn and her brother are not alone in their search for a place to rent. With the vacancy rate hoovering at 0.5 per cent in Greater Victoria, Jim Franklin said many on income assistance are struggling to find places to rent at affordable prices.

“A lot of people can’t find anything and can’t afford it,” said Franklin, head advocate with the Action Committee of People with Disabilities.

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kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com