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Seniors facing significant rent increase have one month to renew or move on

Eighty-two people living at Silvera's West Residence in Glamorgan have been given slightly more than a month to decide if they'll renew their lease for the new year.

If they do, their rents will rise significantly.

"I was just destroyed for the rest of the day," Linda Bowes said.

"I was like, 'Where's this money?'"

Bowes says she receives $2,000 in income each month.

If she stays, next year, her annual expenses will rise by nearly $5,600.

"By the time I grocery shop and buy my medications, there's nothing left," she said.

On Sept. 29, residents at Westview received a letter outlining the new costs.

Rent will rise from $1,000 a month to $1,360 a month.

It also comes with a new mandatory $195 fee to pay for amenities such as shuttle services, access to a guest suite for family, fitness classes and a half-dozen meals a month per unit.

At this time next year, the cost will hit $1,550 a month.

Silvera for Seniors says the costs to operate the buildings have risen sharply -- borrowing and utility costs are up and the units were always destined to move to market rate.

The organization operates both affordable and market-rate housing for seniors, using the additional revenue from one to support the other.

"Competitive market housing has increased significantly. A lot of that is driven by underlying costs in the market," said Kyle Fawcett, chief external relations officer with Silvera for Seniors.

"We have some catch-up to do to ensure that this building is meeting its mandate and generating the market revenue for the organization."

Current vacancy rates in Calgary are estimated at around 2.6 per cent, according to CMHC data.

The average one-bedroom apartment is just over $1,700 a month.

Calgary Housing Corporation had a waitlist of 5,300 people at the end of August.

The options are very limited.

Silvera has offered residents a six-month break on the rent portion of the increase, upping it by $180 instead of the full $360.

But including the new mandatory fee, it only brings the increase down slightly, to 46.5 per cent instead of 55.

"When we got the letters, several people were in tears, because this is their food money. The increase is their food money," said Patricia Studer, who moved in with her husband in 2022.

"So how can you do that to seniors? It breaks my heart."

"It's unfair. Like, I'm in a wheelchair and I only have one hand," said resident Donna Leleivre, who suffered a stroke four years ago.

"They're raising the rent so much that we can't survive."

A group of more than 50 residents met on Tuesday night to talk about options and next steps.

They believe they can put some pressure on Silvera, but may ultimately have no choice in a province where there are no rent-control measures to limit cost increases. Top Stories

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