HOUSING CRISIS: Young couple with pet forced to live in a car in Kelowna
A young man, his girlfriend and his 140 lb dog have been living in a sedan in Kelowna for a month.
Lucas McInnis said it is mentally and physically exhausting living in such small quarters.
It started when McInnis’ truck and tent trailer were both impounded, along with all his belongings. It was towed for being parked in a public parking lot on city property. McInnis suffers from a deteriorating bone disease and is on disability and his girlfriend is currently unemployed. He said with the cost of living in the Okanagan, it isn’t possible to find a place with his income.
“I only get around $1,000 per month for my disability and that’s for food and everything as well, so the budget is pretty low,” he said.
The cost to get the truck and trailer released is just over $700 and increasing every day by twenty dollars.
“Both truck and trailer are registered to us but the chances of us being able to ever afford to remove them are slim to none,” McInnis said. “It wasn’t a busy parking lot by far and there was more than enough space for me to be parked there.”
McInnis said he was looking for a legal place to park he can afford but wasn’t finding it.
“It costs $1,000 per month to get an RV spot and it’s only going up coming into summer,” he said. “You can park at a Walmart if they are okay with it but you can only stay there overnight, leave for the day and come back. You can’t legally park in parks or on public streets.”
That means setting up and dismantling a tent trailer every day. It needs to be lowered and everything packed in order to move it anywhere. McInnis said it takes a couple of hours to set it up and take it down.
McInnis shared his situation to social media and got a lot of supportive feedback and suggestions.
“There are a lot of people who are struggling to live, using vans and trailers or on the street,” he said. “I didn’t make the post to get my way paid, I’m feeling defeated and am reaching out to hopefully find a solution. I didn’t know what else to do.”
When asked what the most helpful suggestion he received was, McInnis said a lady informed him he can park for free at a provincial park if he has a disability, something he is going to look into while also considering the distance from the city and the cost of gas.
That is, if he can get his truck and trailer back.
Originally from Prince George, Lucas arrived in Kelowna in 2019 to visit a friend and decided to stay. He lived with a friend for five months. He met his girlfriend and the two lived in a vehicle for a period of time before someone donated the trailer to them at the beginning of this year.
“We are seeing more families and seniors in the last couple of years facing housing crises,” said Vernon's Turning Points Collaborative Society’s housing charity director Randene Wejr.
“We have seen a steady number of younger people in these situations and the issue for us is lack of housing stock,” she said. “You can’t find a rental that is affordable. We have a vacancy rate of under one per cent, there is not going to be housing for everybody. It is terrible and frustrating.”
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