The working poor

Open letter to our Mayor and Christy Clark:

I am reaching out in desperation. Our landlord has now given us our notice to vacate the property as he is moving back into the home June 1,2017 - leaving a family of 8 out on the street with no where to go.

My father is dead and my mother is not well enough to cope with this, so any help from family is not available. My daughter in-law’s family are already on the last few days of their rental property as it was sold and it has displaced a family of three. Their father is very ill, COPD and on oxygen, and they to date have no place to go.  What has this world come to where war torn countries refugees can be brought to Canada (and don’t get me wrong, I am all for helping our fellow man) yet get better treatment than our own hard-working born and raise backbone of the province families.

We have exhausted every avenue, from applying for a mortgage, rent to own, rental places and land purchase. We have been refused as our combined family income does not satisfy CMHC as CMHC wants at least $80,000 down payment with a combined family income of $100,000. Virtually mission impossible for working families to pay high rent plus save with wages and housing costs being what they are today and the future is not looking any better.

Together we bring in  approx. $6,000 income a month, less rent, heat, hydro, food, car expense, telephone, etc. but none of that matters. We are just in-between a ‘no’ for a mortgage as we don’t make enough, and a ‘no’ to getting rental assistance because we make to much.

So I am asking you, what do we do? I know there are several working class families at this precise moment who, like us, are in that grey area and it seems like our Government our Province has let us down.   

Yes, I understand that affordable housing is being built, but to what avail? We again will fall into that grey area of making too much money to qualify. What happens to the working poor who are turned down at all costs? What is our elected  government doing to help us? We work hard for our money. We put up with exorbitant rents and never get a break. We are the backbone to our province, but our voiced concerns are not being taken seriously.

We have contacted Habitat for Humanity, only to be told we have too many children and the homes they build are geared toward single parents with 2-3 kids and that the cost to build up a home to fit our needs they could help two families instead of one large family. We have contacted Hope for Society to be told we have to many people as the places are only 2-3 bedrooms, and 8 people just wont fit. We are a large family unit. It is more cost efficient for all of us to pool our money and actually get a suitable accommodation.

We tried to do a rent to own, again refused. Again a substantial deposit, at least 25-30% of the purchase price of a home, which again equals about $80,000 required. Our combined income just doesn’t meet their criteria. One company told us I had a better chance at winning the lottery than finding suitable living space.

Last but not least, we tried to get a piece of property and then build a home. Again, good luck with that. We need to own the land outright to try and borrow the money. To purchase the land, we need approx. 25-50% down. The land we were looking at was listed for $119,000, meaning we need $50,000 down. Once we have the land, the banks would then maybe, possibly approve us for a loan to build the home. But that is depending again on CMHC or the lenders. Go figure.

As we are in a home currently till June 1, 2017, and paying $1,600 on rent, plus utilities, plus food, plus, plus, plus, we are very pleased that we actually will have  managed to save $10,000. This has been accomplished by my son working 16 hours a day and me working 8-12 hours a day. Living with no extra luxuries, but this doesn’t even seem to matter. All lenders see is a number obtained by the stress test the  government has imposed on the working class, and unfortunately we don’t meet that criteria outlined in that test. On the other hand, we are at present paying our landlord’s mortgage. It makes no sense to me how we can do that and never miss a payment, Why should we be penalized for not being able to come up with the requirements of a stress test used to determine our eligibility to afford a mortgage? Please explain?

There are no rental vacancies. We have called every one listed on Castanet, Kijji, the newspapers and word of mouth. Those homes that are for rent are $2,800 to $4,000 per month. We just can’t afford that and most of the rentals don't want a family of our size, or pets. A 5 bedroom house that we called only wants couples no kids/pets etc.  So where do we go? We just become another statistic for the government to ignore.

Does the City of West Kelowna have a program to help people in our situation get the start they need? For example, a lender to take a chance, help us purchase the land and get the framework done as then my son could complete the inside and once the house is built, then the equity could go to paying back the lender for his faith in us.

I have never asked for help. I have always made it on my own with my family, but as of June 1, everything I have worked for in the last 40 years will be gone, and we will be living on the street - homeless and destitute, with no where to go, not a bright outlook. There just isn’t enough legislation as to the amount of rent owners can charge. The sad part is that I am a care worker. Accommodation of a tent is inadequate to be fresh and alert for work, so then the possibility of losing my job becomes and issue. Even if I was to let my children be stranded, and I found suitable accommodation, I could not afford $1,200-$1,500 a month for an apartment. I have strong family values and as the old saying goes “united we stand, divided we fall.” I could not look at myself if I let my children live on the street in order to satisfy my living accommodations. Family is family.

We have the money, we just can’t get an even break. Not one lender will touch us as they want such a large deposit and we just don't have the resources to enable this. If we do end up renting, we will never be able to save. Every bit of our money will be utilized in order to live, and that is if we can find a rental to take us. With the cost  of housing, trying to feed a family means going to food bank. Yah right, they wont help us as our income is to high. So how do we tell our kids they cant eat? The future is pretty bleak. It is time our Government, the Province and City took a stand to help the working poor.

Debbie Hook

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