Kamloops renter displaced twice for development projects in just over a year
Jennifer Adams is a housing coordinator in Kamloops, and while she works every day to find affordable placements for low income families, she is often busy packing up and looking for a rental for herself and four teenaged kids.
Adams was first moved from her rental home on Nicola Street last year where she lived for over five years to make way for the City Gardens Development, a multimillion dollar housing project by Kelson Group.
She was given lots of notice the project would be happening and a formal notice four months in advance, but finding affordable housing in a rental market with super low vacancy was “stressful for all of us.”
“You lose an affordable housing situation and are forced into a much smaller space and a more expensive housing market,” she said. “We went from a whole house to a three bedroom for the same rental cost.”
Adams found a second home on Seymour Street to live. She had to do some “major” downsizing and sleep in the living room to make it work. Two months later her landlord sold to a bigger landlord who owns the homes on the rest of the block.
That was a year ago, and Adams was again searching for housing. She was able to find an even smaller house to rent further down the street, but now it too is up for sale to a developer, one of ten houses in a row.
She said she isn’t the only one being shuffled around.
A housing coordinator for the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society, Adams works with families who are struggling to find affordable housing which has become increasingly difficult to find.
“It doesn’t exist, there isn’t enough,” she said. “People are sleeping in cars or couchsurfing, farming their kids out to friends. Some are under the age of 19.”
READ MORE: Kelowna wants to create more affordable housing but will wait for more studies
Adams said while development projects are important for density in a growing city and the old model of the family dwelling with the big yard and white picket fence is changing, more needs to be done in the meantime for current residents being displaced.
“Developers need to do more to keep the community housed in the community they are from.
Adams doesn’t know when she will be told to vacate again, she only hopes it isn’t soon. She is currently sleeping on a bed in her laundry room for lack of bedrooms.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do to meet the needs of my family,” she said. “The rentals are not out there and when one comes up 100 other people are applying. I have pets and teenagers, not good selling points for landlords. I’ll probably have to go even smaller.”
READ MORE: Buyers finding opportunities in Okanagan housing market
According to the January 26 Market Rental report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, rental affordability continues to be a challenge across the country. There is a lack of affordable rental housing, especially for the lowest 20% of income earners.
The report cites higher migration, increased homeownership and students returning to on-campus learning drove increased demand for rental housing in 2022. Demand for rental housing outpaced the increase in supply, leading to a lower national vacancy rate compared to the year before.
According to data from September, 2019, rental vacancy rates have been below 2% in Kamloops and the Okanagan for many years.
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