Why being homeless is not the answer
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Interim Opinions Editor
It seems like almost every week, there’s a new story about someone, usually a millennial, responding to rising housing costs by choosing to set up house in a car, van, tent, shed, or some other sort of non-traditional housing structure.
Most of the time, these stories are positive, oooh-ing and aaah-ing over the “creative” approach to fight against the rental market. Some challenges of living in the space are discussed, but it ends up just being applause at the person’s resourcefulness and unique living situation.
I cannot emphasize this enough: Such a situation should not be common, praised, or especially seriously suggested as a lifestyle that most people should try. Certainly, a few people—by choice—choose to live out of their vans or tents. Kudos to them for saving money on rent, and embracing a minimalist lifestyle. But the vast majority of people don’t want to live in something that is not in any way a house or housing unit. It’s ridiculous to glorify that sort of living as something that’s “resourceful,” instead of tragic and frustrating.
As we all know, the housing and rental market in Vancouver—like most major cities—is at a crazy all-time high, and finding a place to live that won’t break the bank is tough. Rarely do I see stories of the abysmal living conditions found in so many homes around the city, explanations on how the market got this way, or first-hand accounts on the difficulty of rental costs here.
Articles covering “alternative” housing situations aren’t just silly—they’re embarrassing and frustrating to those who are having housing trouble. Essentially, they are encouraging homelessness as a positive solution to living insecurity. Living in a car should not be taken seriously as a lifestyle for anyone to take up. It’s almost suggesting that it’s our fault we can’t afford extreme rent prices—and that we should all just be more creative and live in a tent instead.
People have been living in different structures than houses for a long time, but never before has it been seen as “cool,” or “minimalistic.” We should feel pity and anger about those who live alternatively because of an unforgiving market, not writing human interest stories on them. We should also cover the many in this city who live in single-room occupancy, unstable or illegal units, or other unreasonable living situations. These aren’t glorified by the media—so why is living in vehicles?