The current housing situation in 100 Mile House is making it harder for community service workers to ensure residents are being housed.
Not having enough affordable housing is the biggest issue, according to Leah Sinal, the community navigator at the Candian Mental Health Association’s South Cariboo branch.
“You have to get creative with how you’re dealing with people,” said Sinal. “Unfortunately, there are times when we have to tell people ‘no’ because there is nothing available and we can’t provide that for them.”
In British Columbia, a single-person on basic income assistance can receive up to $760 a month and of that, $375 is considered shelter allowance or rent.
“The reality is there is nowhere to rent for $375 per month,” said Susann Collins, executive director to the South Cariboo’s CMHA.
The average price for a one to a two-bedroom rental in 100 Mile is upwards of $650 a month.
“It can be disappointing at times when there is no housing available or what is available is out of a person’s range,” said Sinal. “Most people are paying more of their income toward housing costs and that makes it difficult to pay other basic monthly expenses such as utilities, phone, gas and food.”
In December, the province acquired the Sheridan Manor – a 33-unit apartment building – generating more affordable housing in the long-term. The building is currently at capacity and doesn’t provide a solution to people needing somewhere to live now.
“We need to build more affordable housing so the total number of housing units and affordable housing units both increase,” said Collins.
In addition to the manor, BC Housing funds 25 homes at the Cariboo Trail terrace, 17 homes for seniors at the Carefree Manor and 24 homes for independent seniors at Pioneer Haven. According to BC Housing communications advisor, Andrea Coutts, nearly 50 supplements to help people in 100 Mile House access rental housing in the private market – seven for families, 32 for seniors and 10 for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
The local CMHA branch offers a shelter service during the winter for people experiencing homelessness. Collins said the program can provide up to 10 people with a space to spend the night.
“If someone is homeless and we can’t find them something, then we have to figure out a way to get them shelter,” said Sinal.
That might involve reconnecting their clients to family members and friends, or if needs cannot be met, suggesting Williams Lake or Kamloops for more services that can assist their needs.
“It’s a weekly occurrence, that we are having to find someone shelter that doesn’t have somewhere to go.”
Collins said she’s seen the staff compete with one another for vacancies and advocate for their clients.
“It can be challenging,” said Sinal.
Coutts said BC Housing is open to working with partners to bring more affordable housing into the community.