One family’s journey to stable affordable housing in Victoria
Finding affordable rental family housing is hard.
Imagine, after months of looking, finally getting affordable housing for your family. Then the worry begins. You’re scared you’ll lose your home because you have kids.
“Nobody wants to rent to you if you have little kids. I had to settle for whatever I could get. I was lucky to find a two-bedroom apartment after four months of searching.” says Stanley, tenant and father of three boys.
Stanley moved to Canada from Nairobi in 2014. He was on his own for the first two years. Back then, Stanley found it easy to get housing. “I had lots of options as a single, working person. I was able to rent a room,” says Stanley.
Two years later, in 2016, Stanley’s family moved to Canada. “We were so happy to be together again. I got to meet my second son. He was born after I left Nairobi.” Stanley finally found “a place where we could lay our heads.”
The two-bedroom, second floor apartment wasn’t ideal.
Stanley says, “most apartment buildings only rent the ground floor to family people. The other floors aren’t available if you have younger kids like mine". Frustrated Stanley continued, “Where did you live when you were a kid? How do you expect kids to grow up”.
The little boys wanted to play and run. Neighbours living below the family complained about the noise.
“I dreaded the knock on the door. We tried to be quieter. We had to teach our kids to not express themselves. All because we lived in an apartment building”, says Stanley.
Concerned with stifling the kids, the family, now with three little boys, made plans to move again. “Families need homes big enough for kids to play and be kids. We explored everything. Co-ops, actually buying a house – we wanted to buy but my income wasn’t enough. We applied to BC Housing too.”
After waiting on the list, Stanley eventually got a call from the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS). They had a home under construction the family could move to soon.
We drove by every two weeks to check the progress. It was a big relief! Finally, we were out of the housing madness. After we moved, right away you could see the difference in the kids. They play whatever they want to play in the house.
Virginia Holden, Executive Director of GVHS, says Stanley’s story is not unique.
“Low to moderate income families are struggling to get into safe, stable housing. We need more. Family housing builds communities, keeps kids in school. Gives them a strong start in life. To help, about 12 years ago, GVHA changed from seniors’ housing to housing for families. Today GVHS has about 200 family units (1-4 bedroom) with plans to double that by 2030.”
Since 2017, the Province has funded more than 40,000 affordable new homes. These are either complete or are underway for people in B.C. including more than 3,000 in Victoria.
To learn more about family housing, listen to our podcast with Stanley and Virginia Holden.