A mother of four in South Hazelton says she’s going to set up camp at Ferry Island by this weekend because she can’t find an affordable place to live.
Anna Martin says she and her children have no choice but to live in a van.
Martin is abandoning her current rental home in South Hazelton because her family has been suffering health problems related to severe mold issues.
“It has no insulation and nothing but sawdust in the walls and a rotten foundation,” she said.
After being unable to find a place to stay in her home town of Greenville or anywhere else nearby including Smithers and Terrace, Martin says she phoned emergency shelters as a last resort but was told there was no availability for her family.
“We even tried the Terrace shelter but we can’t get in there and we have no family or friends to live with. We are going to be homeless here by the twenty-first of March,” Martin said last week.
“I tried the Smithers shelter too and they won’t take us. We are going to be living out of our van. The only thing I can think of is in Terrace where the RV park is. Ferry Island.”
Martin said Ksan shelter would only let her stay a few days, not long enough to find a new rental.
“We’re just packing up right now,” Martin added, who has four children aged ten, seven, five and four.
“We’ll have to make do,” she said about living in her van with four kids.
According to Carol Sabo, director of Terrace’s shelter, Ksan House, the Ksan transition house does take interim housing for short periods but that Martin’s situation shows how dire the situation can be for families without housing.
“It is the reality now – especially for families,” said Sabo, who is currently seeking to advance a project to build affordable housing units on city land.
“Singles we can roll out the mats at night at the shelter but if the transition house is full with women fleeing abuse there aren’t any real options for families,” she said.
Martin said that specifically she wasn’t allowed into the woman’s shelter.
Sabo has the following advice for homeless families:
“I would encourage families, if they are homeless, or about to become homeless, to fill out a BC Housing application (off the internet or an agency that can print it out for them). We, and other agencies, can fill out a supplemental form that verifies the situation they are in and they can be placed in a BC Housing building where there is a vacancy somewhere in the province. I know a couple weeks ago Rupert and Burns Lake had some vacancies. That would mean moving schools, doctors, etc. though – not a nice situation to be in.”
Martin said she has been on the BC Housing waiting list for three years. She is currently still trying to contact her family to find a resolution to her problem before Saturday.
“We’ve been living with mold for the last four years and having health problems because of this,” she said.
Last summer Terrace instated a bylaw which gives the city the power to fine landlords for mold violations to prevent such conditions.