As rent has become more expensive in Metro Vancouver, some advocates say it is one of the reasons women are forced to live in uncomfortable situations.
According to a new report from rental accommodation website Rentals.ca, the average rent in Vancouver is up annually by 15 per cent for one-bedrooms, at $2,604, and up 19 per cent for two-bedrooms, at $3,648.
Liz Barnett, executive director of the Bloom Group, a non-profit based in the Downtown Eastside that offers support for housing among other services, says financial hardship is one of many reasons women are unable to move out after ending a relationship.
"Women who are in our services right now ... are stuck in the system because of the high rent barrier to find places that they could live that they can afford with their children," said Barnett.
She says increasing rent has made things more challenging for women, especially those with children.
"Think about women who come with two or three kids and a dog, how long can you stay on your cousin's sofa?"
B.C. 'most expensive province' for rent
According to the report, B.C. remains the most expensive province for rent: the average rent for purpose-built and condominium apartments is $2,433, followed closely by rent in Ontario at $2,372.
As of November 2022, rent for a one-bedroom unit averages $2,576 in Vancouver, $2,290 in Burnaby, $2,140 in Victoria, and $2,003 in Kelowna.
"We really see this disconnect of income and rents and yet at the same time this challenge toward providing people an affordable, adequate and safe place to live," Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University's City Program, told CBC News.
He says he's also seen a decrease in single-person households as more people live together to make ends meet.
"Overall in Metro Vancouver ... there are now three people in a household that are responsible toward maintaining expenses."
Living together post-breakup
Rhea Azarraga, 29, says she had to live with her partner for three months after they ended their relationship, before she was able to move out.
"I'd be just making inquires like every day, more than 20 I'd say," she told CBC News.
"It was really difficult and it was one of the most stressful periods of my life."
Azarraga says after months of searching on rental platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Zumper and Kijiji, she finally found a basement suite — but rent was still more than her budget of $1,500.
"I don't get a lot of light ... and I'm paying $1,750 for just under 500 square feet," she said, adding that it was also difficult finding an affordable place that allows pets.
She says before she moved in with her boyfriend in 2020, she was paying $1,300 for a studio apartment. When she left, she says, her landlord told her the rent would be going up to $1,600.