Housing for Essential Workers

Healthcare workers, teachers, and other working professionals struggle to stay on Salt Spring due to the high costs of rent – often 60% or more of their salaries – or simply not finding housing at all. People with well paying, full time jobs that provide services essential for a well-functioning community are being forced to leave.

“How can this island survive if there is no where for workers to live?”

My name is Nikki and I moved to Salt spring when I was 7 years old (1980). We lived at Cottage lake resort for the winter and had to move out each summer. We did that for three years and finally my mom bought a trailer and found a place to rent to keep it on. Not a lot has changed since then. Since I came back to Salt Spring I have lived in houses with roommates, a moldy trailer in the trailer park, a moldy house that was run down but rent was reasonable. But none of that was long-term.

I am barely scraping by and I have a good full time job – Nikki

Now I’m a single mom with two children trying to find a good clean, mold free affordable home. Not an easy task. after several months I got lucky and found a great place for reasonable rent and was able to stay there for three years until my landlord decided that he wanted to sell his house. So I found myself looking again for affordable housing for me and my children. I did find a place to live but it is barely affordable.

I pay 57% of my earnings on rent which doesn’t leave much for anything else. I am barely scrapping by and I have a good, steady, full time descent paying job and should be able to look toward  to a future of getting ahead and having my own place some day but I’m not. I continue to look for a home that I can comfortably afford but there is nothing.

I talk to people everyday that are going through similar situations. What is the solution?

We need affordable housing on Salt spring. I am a health care professional and I’ve been in this industry for 26 years. Since I’ve been at Greenwoods (16 years) it has been hard to get staff. One of the major reasons is lack of affordable housing. How can an Island survive if there is no where for workers to live? A lot of people have changed their rentals in to Air B&B’s to make more money. We have many wealthy people who own homes here that only visit a couple times a year if at all but are not willing to rent out their houses. It would be a great shame to see this community die because there are no workers to take care of the elderly, serve coffee & food, to run the grocery and retail stores, gas stations etc…

If you love this island and want to see it thrive and not die, please help. Even if it’s sharing your own story to help the ones that don’t realize what is really going on to see the truth.

Be sure to read her story on the Driftwood multimedia feature on housing.

“So many people are looking for places to live”

I am an Education Assistant for the School District at the Salt Spring Middle School. I have two kids that are both in school. I have been paying $1100 a month for a two bedroom garden suite in the bottom of a house that is walking distance to the school where I work. The owners of the house want to move into the suite, so I am now in desperate need of a home.

“I am spending over 60% of my income on rent” – Krystel

I check the Salt Spring Exchange website, Salty Rentals on Facebook, and share through word of mouth by making personal connections every day. There are so many people looking for places. Because of the climate, where it’s so hard to find a place, people are reluctant to do anything controversial. They are worried about being perceived as homeless or getting marked as undesirable before they even get to an interview stage. There is a fear of unfair selection processes from landlords.

I am spending over 60% of my income on rent. We’ve have had to give up our family pets in order to find a place. Finding housing has been stressful for my family.

I choose to live and work on Salt Spring. We’re building our lives here. I want my kids to have a stable, secure home and a feeling of belonging to this community.

Do you have a housing affordability horror story? Please share your story and we will make sure it gets heard by people who can change things.

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