Leonard Lepensee, his wife, and their six children returned home to Campbell River at the end of August to begin a desperate search for a new place to live, after a summer of visiting family across Western Canada.
“As a parent I can’t allow them to throw our kids on the street,” he said.
The Lepensees have been living at the same house in Campbell River since they moved here in 2014. Now, the owner of the property wants to move home and the Lepensees need a new place to live, but after more than two months of looking and inquiring every day, they can’t find a place.
“There have been some (appropriate places), and a lot of times we won’t even get a response back when we send an email our or leave a message,” he said.
After a call with an arbitrator at the beginning of the month, the Lepensees are waiting for an eviction notice and continuing the search for a home.
Though they would legally need a four or five bedroom house, Lepensee said they could make due with one or two, or even a hotel room in the short term, he just doesn’t want his family to end up on the street.
He said that he is working with the John Howard Society to find emergency housing, but so far they haven’t had any luck.
Despite being on Disability Assistance because of arthritis and an auto-immune disorder, Lepensee added that it isn’t budget that is the problem. The family has been using some of their allotted money for food and other expenses to pay rent for many years, as the money specifically for housing from the government isn’t enough, but they have some leeway.
“Rent has skyrocketed since we moved here, has gone up 40 per cent in some cases…but we can still work with the rents that are out there right now,” he said.
The Lepensees are not alone in their desperate and unfruitful search for housing in Campbell River. The Mirror has heard many stories, which we will be sharing in an ongoing series. The mayor has also commented on the escalating situation, and a group of local leaders in the community health and social assistance field have formed the Housing First Committee to address the issue. Check back for the next story in the series next week.
Have you been having trouble finding housing in Campbell River? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in sharing your story.