For the last four years, Mathie Franchuk has been living in a decrepit trailer in Summerland, with most of her disability payment going to rent.
Money is tight and she often has to rely on the food bank.
Franchuk has felt increasingly uneasy in this trailer, so she has decided to move out at the end of this month, due to what she describes as worsening living conditions.
But so far, she has not found a new home.
Franchuck would like to stay in Summerland, a community where she feels comfortable. She has a car, a tent and a camping stove, and would like to find a place to set up camp on an acreage or a large rural property.
She is willing to pay a fee to set up her tent if someone has an area available for her.
“I’ve got everything I need to camp out,” she said.
Hal Roberts, resource coordinator at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said it is difficult for those in impoverished conditions to find places to live in Summerland.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have any social housing in Summerland,” he said.
While several organizations have been working to create affordable housing for this segment of the population, the projects are not yet in place.
In addition, the rental market is tight in Summerland, he said.
While there is social housing in place in Penticton, and with some new construction in place, the wait time to get in is three to six months. Earlier, those in need of social housing in Penticton had to wait between one and two years, Roberts said.
He said in winter, some motels in the region would rent out housekeeping units to those in need, but these units would not be available during the summer tourist season.
This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some motels may be accepting people in housekeeping units, he said.
For Franchuk, however, finding a place to live becomes complicated since she has two large dogs. Finding a place that will accept the dogs is an additional challenge, she said.
This is why she is looking to make an arrangement with a rural property owner to set up her tent in a corner of an acreage. She said if a place is available, she will ensure her dogs will not be running loose on the property.
While her disability keeps her from anything more than some part-time work, she would be willing to help watch a property for the owner.
“My dogs are really good guard dogs,” she said.
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