Amanda knew it would be difficult to find a rental home for her father and three children, but she never dreamed it would be this hard.
“After we were forced to move twice — the house was sold and in another instance the landlord was moving his son into the rental — it was exhausting trying to find something,” said Amanda. “Trying to find a place that is semi-wheelchair accessible for my dad and my three kids, two of which have disabilities, and I’m a single parent on income assistance. It was to the point where people wouldn’t even show houses to me when I said single parent. I had to go back to my maiden name and be incredibly vague about myself and my dad living together in a house and make it seem we were a normal family of two adults and three kids.”
After finally finding a place in South Delta, Amanda (who uses an online alias) decided to set up wtfvanrental on Instagram to document her struggles and to see if others shared her experiences. She set the page up in April and immediately started receiving responses. She now has more than 2,200 followers on the page.
“It’s been crazy. Every day I get messages from people that are dealing with the same things that I have,” she said. “I was looking for places from Vancouver to Chilliwack. I put out hundreds of applications out there. It was to the point that my dad might have had to sleep in the living room in order to find a house. My dad’s social worker where we used to live said that if we didn’t find a house that they would put my dad into a nursing home and put my kids into foster care until I found something.”
She said at this time last year the family was living in a six-bed, two-level house for $1,500 that was on a bus route, a block away from school and everything that they needed was a SkyTrain ride away. Then they found a four-bedroom home for a bit more that did not have as much access to transit. Now in South Delta, they are paying well over $2,000 for a place.
“I’m grateful to have found something, but it’s expensive. Transit is not great out here and now I have had to start all over again with our specialists and doctors because we can’t get out to see them as often as we could have before,” she said. “We are on the lists for BC Housing, but it is a long wait to get accessible housing.”
Amanda said the stories she is seeing shared on the Instagram pages have been alarming.
“A mother recently messaged me saying she might be homeless after going through the tribunal for a dispute. She takes care of her parents and her husband works three jobs and they can’t find housing,” she said. “It’s brutal. We have a two-year lease here on our place, but after two years I’ll be in the same boat – looking again. Services are not 100 per cent great out here for seniors, disabled, special needs. It’s been difficult. I think a lot of it is because income assistance pays so little. Because my dad lives with me I get less for rent because I’m in a shared accommodation, which is crazy.”