Left frustrated and exhausted by a search for an affordable home in Calgary’s tight rental market, the single father has decided a used camper might be his best bet for a roof over his family’s head.
“It’s been hell,” said Dion, who works as a technician for a coffee company.
“Finding a place that’s reasonable rent is almost impossible. Finding a place that will allow our pet is again almost impossible.”
Dion said his landlord recently sold the northwest home he’s lived in for a year and he has to vacate by Nov. 1.
Since finding out he would be evicted, Dion has spent countless hours seeking a new place to live for himself, his 17-year-old daughter and the family’s pooch.
“I’m doing the best I can to have a roof over (my daughter’s) head,” he said.
He’s browsed through advertisements, looked at potential places, posted an online ad seeking “something to live in,” looked at rent-to-own listings and contacted Calgary Housing Co., which provides affordable housing solutions to local residents.
“They told me it will be 11 to 12 weeks before they even get to look at my file,” he said.
Dion is willing to pay around $1,000 a month to rent a home and said he’s encountered both scams and unreasonably expensive rentals via online listings.
“There’s not a heck of a lot of (rental ads) to respond to,” he said. “One person said that I can have just one bedroom in her house for $1,500 a month.”
Debbie Newman, executive director of the Drop-In Centre, said a lack of affordable housing, made worse by apartments being turned into condos and places like the Cecil Hotel closing, combined with a growing population makes Calgary’s current rental market the worst she’s ever seen.
“We know that there is a housing crisis across Alberta,” she said.
“We’re seeing it also in areas of the province that were not complaining seven or eight years ago . . . rural areas that have not seen homeless people are now reporting it.”
Looking for a used trailer or camper to spend the winter in is Dion’s last resort.
Dion said if he can’t find a place to live — either a reasonably priced rental house or a camper — Plan B is to live in his truck with his daughter and dog, an option that Newman said is more common in Calgary than many people think.
“At the end of the month we’re going to be without a place,” Dion said. “We’ll live in my vehicle and we’ll lose everything because we have no storage.”
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s spring market survey measured Calgary’s residential vacancy rate at 1.4 per cent, making it the lowest in the country.
The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary was $1,267, a price that makes it difficult for countless Calgarians to find a place to live.
“It’s insane,” Dion said. “It’s to the point where I’m going to have to quit my job and leave Calgary.”