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Making do with less : the housing experiences of single mothers in Kelowna's rental housing market Jones, Amanda Gloria


Housing is important to the overall health and well-being of all families and individuals. With an expensive housing market and a growing population, access to housing is an important issue. Relatively little research has been conducted on the housing experiences of single mothers in Canada’s rental housing markets, and none in the case of mid-sized cities like Kelowna. The purpose of this study is to examine the rental housing experiences of single mothers in the City of Kelowna. More specifically, it focuses on the barriers and challenges faced by single mothers during their search for rental housing in the city, as well as the strategies they employ in order to deal with these challenges. This paper also makes recommendations for improving the rental housing experiences of single mothers in the future. The data for this study were collected through a survey of 30 single mother renters living in the City of Kelowna between May and September of 2012. Additional information for this study was drawn from semi-structured interviews with 11 key informants who included housing service providers, city planners, and city officials. The results from this study indicate that single mothers face many barriers and challenges in Kelowna’s rental housing market, including affordability and size adequacy in particular. Single mothers also felt that they had been discriminated against by landlords and building managers during the housing search process. Strategies used to cope with rental housing barriers and challenges included: spending less on other household essentials, borrowing money, living with friends or family members, and working more than one job or overtime. Results from this study indicate that more needs to be done to increase Kelowna’s supply of affordable rental housing, including subsidized units; and that more needs to be done to address the social and economic factors that lead to housing affordability burden in the first place, specifically the gap between wages and the cost of living. This exploratory study adds to the existing literature by highlighting the importance of understanding the rental housing experiences of households led by single mothers in the mid-sized city of Kelowna, BC.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada