For those that work in affordable housing a recently released study confirms what they already know but for the generalpublic it might come as a shock.
A report commissioned by the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society outlines that about one-third of householdsare living in unaffordable housing while seven per cent live in inadequate housing conditions.
The report was prepared by Sagewood Research, using a mix of surveys and interviews with residents, healthcare and not-for-profit workers.
The calls for the immediate need for at minimum an additional 164 affordable units and104 supportive and assisted living(76 for seniors, 28 non-seniors). This is up and above the 24 affordable units the LSCSS is in the process of building. Thoseunits received government funding of $3.1 million.
“In part it justifies our effort to develop more affordable housing like we have in the works. We knew the need existed thisjust formalized it,” Sarah Martin, executive director for LSCSS said.
Parts of the report that outline some of the conditions people are forced to live in are hard to read, Martin acknowledged.
One of the most difficult is of a family who lived in the crawl space of a home with a dirt floor because it was all they couldafford and it was cool in the hot summer months.
The report also notes an 84-year-old woman is forced to live in a motel due to lack of affordable housing options and thata 64-year-old with disabilities hitch hikes to Keremeos to reach medical services.
There is also mention of individuals and families living in shipping containers, overheated and overcrowded campers andtent communities.
Martin said her and her staff work with many individuals living in substandard conditions on a regular basis.
“When I’ve done intake interviews in people’s homes I’ve personally been astonished by what I’ve seen. People are living inhomes with substandard electrical. They have one plug and a huge power bar. They can only run one appliance at a time.They have to choose between a kettle or a heater. There’s drafts and mould issues,” she said.
Because Keremeos is surrounded by unincorporated areas (Area B and G) it means in a large majority of the LowerSimilkameen there are no building codes.
Without standards there is no catch-all to ensure people are living in acceptable housing, Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauersaid.
“The overall conclusions are based on the whole area… that really distorts it for Keremeos,” he said. “I don’t really know ofof anybody that lives in Keremeos that are living in appalling conditions.”
Bauer noted that shipping containers are not permitted with village limits per the building bylaw.
Although the worst living conditions are out of Keremeos, Bauer did say the village is focussed on helping in anyway it canto provide affordable and appropriate housing to residents and those looking to move to the area.
The village donated the land that 12 of the new affordable units will be built on in the way of a longterm lease with LSCSS.
The building of a new modular home park is in the works in Keremeos and is currently working its way through therezoning process.
The report outlined that 85 per cent of households are of two persons or less and 79 per cent are without children. Themajor sources of income are government or private pensions and the mean income of the household within the study areais just $40,841.
Bauer noted that council is working towards allowing carriage houses and secondary suites within the village. Those bylawsare currently at second reading and will soon be up for public input.
“Those kinds of things help not only people looking for housing but also help people afford their home by generating anincome off the rental,” he said. “Of course we’re always looking for any kinds of opportunities with developers to createhousing options for our residents.”
To access the whole report visit the LSCSS website at http://ttpwebhost.com/lscss