Renters of Vancouver: “They offered me a place to stay…in exchange for sexual favours”

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      “Renters of Vancouver” takes an intimate look at how the city's millennials are dealing with the housing crisis.

      “Nine years ago, I moved from France to Quebec. I was expecting to get into Montreal school, but sadly I didn’t make it, so in January I’ll have to try again. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get a place in September 2017, but just in case I don’t, I’ve moved to Vancouver to improve my English. I never knew that it would be so hard to find a place to live in this city—and that potential roommates could be so creepy.

      When I first came here, I stayed with a friend. I thought I’d be out of the house within a week, but I had to extend it. I’d heard that it would be tough to find a home in Vancouver, but I was convinced that I’d make it. Turns out that wasn’t true.

      Every minute I had free, I had to be on the internet. As soon as I arrived, I got on Craigslist and Kijiji. I wasn’t successful at all, so I started looking at other opportunities like home-shares. The trouble is that I’m going to turn 34 in one week, and I feel like I want to have my own place, not live with people that are like my parents. I want to feel comfortable and at ease, and that I can relax at home.

      I couldn’t find somewhere decent just searching though ads, so I put up a “wanted” post. The first time I tried it, I didn’t put a picture. I only got one response in the whole month, so that was the only place I went to go and look at. It wasn’t great, but because there was nothing else available, I had to move in. That was 25 days after I arrived.

      I stayed there for a while, and eventually it was obvious that my roommate and I were a bad fit and I needed to find somewhere new. This time I put up another “wanted” ad, but with my picture. I got a lot of responses, and many of them were horrible. There were at least five people who offered me a place to stay in their apartment for a cheap price, but only in exchange for sexual favours.

      I’m going to read some out to you.

      ‘I saw your post on Craigslist. I have an apartment, one bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen is shared. I don’t have a pet. The address is on Robson and Cardero. The price is $300 if you are open-minded to be FWB. [Friends with benefits]. Cleanliness is essential thing.’

      It gets worse. The subject of this one is ‘Something Different With a Hot Professional’.

      ‘Hi there. Would you be interested in a sugarbabe-type arrangement and help with your rent if you are attractive and fit 19+? I know this isn’t what you’re looking for but if you’re open minded and easy going do you have other pics and a contact number? Maybe we can chat about this more over drinks?’

      Here’s another.

      ‘How are you. I am a 42-year-old male, 6”1’, 220 pounds with short red hair. I do have a room for you. I do drink once in a while but I don’t get drunk. I don’t smoke or do drugs at all. I do walk around in the house in the nude sometimes. It’s nothing sexual and I don’t expect anything from you and if me doing that is a problem for you I won’t if you’re home. Bye for now.’

      This one was short and to the point.

      ‘One room but I’m living there I can share other bed to you. I’m male do you want that?’

      It was very frustrating. I was already stressed out because I was running out of time to find a home, and responses like that it made it even worse. It made me feel like that kind of arrangement would be the only way I could get a place in my budget, and I would never be prepared to live in that situation. After a while, you stop being sure if you can even trust people on housing websites. That’s a tough position to be in when you’re looking for a home.

      The ad I put out is very normal. It’s very neutral, and there’s absolutely nothing in it to suggest that I’d want that kind of relationship. I’m not looking for a boyfriend—I’m looking for a room. This is a Craigslist accommodation post. It’s not Tinder.

      Luckily, after a long time, I managed to get a viewing at two places. Neither of them is totally perfect, but I will definitely take one. I’m happy to be done with this house search. I hope this time it works out.”

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