HOUSING CRISIS: Rent, poverty affecting mental health of Kamloops mom and kids
A Kamloops mother is working three jobs, including one for the provincial government, and is still struggling to make bill payments.
Daniyell Vincent’s Monday to Friday job is with the ministry of transportation and infrastructure, yet the single mother of two still relies on the food bank to get by due to the high costs of rent and food.
“Almost 90% of my income from my main job goes to rent,” she said.
Vincent rents an apartment on Kamloops’s North Shore where she lives with her two teenagers.
Spending so much time working is preventing her from spending time with her kids, affecting her mental health, and compromising the quality of life for her family.
She fears for the future of others like her and wants the government to put a cap on rental costs.
“There needs to be some kind of guidelines in the rental market. There are a lot of variables like number of rooms and square footage that should be reviewed and capped at a certain price," she said. "There will be more and more people living on the streets, or moms and kids living in abusive homes because they can’t make it on their own. This is a growing crisis.”
Vincent grew up as a teenager in Kamloops and moved back to the city last year from Vancouver.
“Kamloops is the only place that feels like home to me,” she said. “We came back to get out of the city and get a fresh new start. I had high school friends here so it felt like the right place.”
She wasn’t expecting to move back and found it so challenging to find a place to rent she ended up paying a higher rent than the one she had in Vancouver.
“The place I have now was the only place I was successful in acquiring,” she said. “I was looking at two-bedroom apartment and basement suites and multiple people told me my girls sharing a room wouldn’t pass fire codes. Lots of people demanded credit checks and I won’t pass one.”
Vincent said she separated from her husband seven years ago and exhausted any savings she had. Due to the cost of living, she “hasn’t been able to get out of the hole since” and is still paying off student loans and car loans.
Each child has a dad, with only one of them providing financial help.
She said people like her who are working and contributing to society, paying taxes and trying to stay off government programs should not have to struggle so hard to survive.
Vincent said while she can swallow her pride and access community resources to keep the home running, she feels something invaluable is slipping away while she is busy working.
“Working three jobs doesn’t give me time to be at home with my teenagers at their boundary-pushing stages of life,” she said. “They need me and sometimes I’m so exhausted I’m not a good version of myself and unpleasant to be around. It is hard on everyone’s mental health, but I only have so much left in the tank.”
Not only does the mother stress every day to provide life’s necessities, not having anything special to look forward to wears her down.
“I can’t take my kids out for a night out, a movie, a Blazers game,” she said. “When life is constantly hard and we’re constantly having scraps they need something to look forward to. We can only eat so much pasta and rice.”
For Christmas Vincent has signed up for a hamper with the Salvation Army.
According to Statistics Canada data from the 2021 census released Sept. 21, 36.1% of renters in Kamloops paid more than 30% of their income on rental costs, 43.7% of renters in Kelowna were in that unaffordable range.
“The struggle is real and everyone is feeling it,” Vincent said.
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.
While housing demand is outpacing supply in B.C., the provincial government recently introduced new legislation, Nov. 21, aimed at increasing housing supply with measures that will end rental restrictions and force local governments to meet housing growth targets.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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