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HOUSING CRISIS: Kamloops mom and kids in rough place after losing home

Kamloops mom Kimberley Beesley's child at a temporary living space in rural B.C.
Kamloops mom Kimberley Beesley's child at a temporary living space in rural B.C.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Kimberley Beesley

A Kamloops mother and her two children are living in an unfinished out-building on a rural property, using space heaters to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures.

Kimberley Beesley was forced to pull her children from school and took what shelter she could get after failing to find affordable housing when her previous home was taken over by the landlord.

“We’re sleeping on air mattresses and using the amenities in the main building,” she said. “I got the kids their own fuzzy chairs so they have somewhere to sit. I’m out of cell service but have wifi, that’s how far away from the city life we are.”

The 37-year-old, who is on a fixed disability income, spent last month searching for an affordable place to live in Kamloops, where her children attend school and her dad lives, but was met with a shortage of available housing and rental costs beyond her budget.

Beesley wants the provincial government to call for a state of emergency and address the housing crisis. 

“In Kamloops, my options were living in my van or spending my entire disability check on a hotel and defaulting on all my bills,” she said. “I went to local agencies for temporary help but I think due to short staffing and scrambling to get winter warming places set up, we fell through the cracks.”

READ MORE: Homeless shelter operators in Okanagan, Kamloops tired of gov't downloading, inaction

Beesley wants affordable modular housing units built right away, for all demographics of homelessness in the city.

“People are in a state of emergency and we need to take action to build tiny homes and modular housing. If work camps can be built fast there isn’t any excuse. People are freezing to death right now.”

Over a week ago Beesley packed her home into a small storage unit and travelled north for a day to the friend’s rural property.

She said she is grateful to have such generous friends and to have a roof over her head, but the kids are missing school.

“My daughter is devastated to have left her school of five years, this was her graduating year from grade six,” she said. “She left her after-school care program where she was very connected with staff and kids.

“It’s been traumatic on us all as we try to keep a good routine, some normalcy, while staying grateful we have each other even if we’re so far away from our community.” 

READ MORE: HOUSING CRISIS: Single Kamloops mom packing up with nowhere to go

Beesley’s other child is awaiting an assessment for autism and has been struggling being out of her regular environment. She stays in touch with friends on her tablet.

“At the end of the day we have a warm place to sleep that is cozy and safe and we have each other,” Beesley said. “But this isn’t a reasonable long-term solution and its part of a bigger crisis." 

Beesley said she has good credit, and is a non-smoker, non-drinker and non-partier with a price range for a rental of $1,300 to $1,450 but it isn’t enough.

The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s October 2021 rental survey showed the vacancy rate in Kamloops at 0.9%. It's considered healthy at four per cent.

According to Statistics Canada data from the 2021 census released Sept. 21, more than one-third of renters in Kamloops paid more than 30% of their income on rental costs.

READ MORE: Governments need to 'serious steps' to tackle housing crisis: Accountants

The single mother is now wondering what Christmas will look like for her kids.

“Our hopes of going home for Christmas are dependent on winter storms and road conditions,” she said. “We may miss out on being a part of a float in the Santa Parade this November along with community dinners our family has looked forward to each year. I need to go home to visit the rest of my friends and family.”

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