With Vancouver and Toronto vacancy rates at 0.9 and 1.7 per cent respectively, and rental prices surging, seniors, students, new immigrants, single parents and people with disabilities — those on modest or fixed incomes — are being priced out of their communities. 

Ren Thomas, associate professor of planning at Dalhousie University in Halifax, warns it’s a real loss for our biggest cities.

“You need that diversity — and that’s what makes our big cities great is we have there, you know, different people in different jobs,” said Thomas. 

Canada’s national housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), says affordable shelter should cost no more than 30 per cent of your pre-tax income. Using that metric, political economist and senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Ricardo Tranjan, crunched recent Rentals.ca numbers for Marketplace and found that to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment today, a person needs to be earning about $109,000 a year in Vancouver, and $98,000 in Toronto.

But those who work full time, earning minimum wage in both cities, bring in less than $30,000 a year. That number can be even lower for those on fixed incomes or social assistance. 

So where do the most vulnerable live? 

Watch the video above to see how Marketplace exposes the shocking condition of rentals for some of those on modest incomes in Toronto and Vancouver.  From crumbling ceilings, cockroach infestations and sharing a bed next to a stranger, the high cost of living in these two cities means many Canadians are being forced to live in what one expert we spoke to called “deplorable” conditions.

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