A letter to the editor from our Poverty Law Advocate, Christie Fiebelkorn:

“In my line of work, we receive countless phone calls from distressed individuals affected by the housing crisis.

The calls we receive range from eviction notices due to reno-victions, homes being sold, motels increasing the weekly rent by 50% with no notice to tenants, or motels giving tenants 48 hours’ notice to vacate. Tenants in motels don’t have protection from the Residential Tenancy Act.

They are the people who work at the grocery store as your clerk, wash your dishes at restaurants, serve your coffee at fast food establishments, or cleaning hotel rooms for out of town guests. They are the people who worked over half their lives in our community and are now facing serious housing insecurity and can’t compete with market prices because pensions are too low. They are single mothers who left abusive relationships and are relying solely on income assistance and child tax. They are those with serious mental illness who rely on disability assistance. They are two parent households working minimum wage jobs just trying to get by and provide for their children. They are care aids caring for our elders, and small business owners.

Penticton seems to not realize that the same people who face housing insecurity are contributing to our local economy, and they deserve to have a safe place to call home. When you lose housing, you lose so much more than a roof over your head. You lose safety and security. You lose the ability to care for yourself and prepare food for yourself.

You can apply for BC Housing, but the wait is years. You can search for market rentals, there are no places to go. There are no places when you are on a fixed, limited, working poor income, or earning just over the poverty line.

When will we as a society hear the need for affordable housing?

It’s easy to place the blame on “laziness” or “choice”. There are some circumstances you simply can’t plan for.

Will we refuse to see the need for change in our community, until we or our loved ones have faced the hopelessness and utter bleakness of the housing crisis?

Open your hearts and eyes to this crisis that is affecting our community. We need sensible leadership to address this. We need affordable housing.”