Saskatoon family desperate to find affordable housing

CBC News July 23, 2013 - A Saskatoon family that relies on social assistance is worried about where they will live in one week, when they will have to leave the house they are currently sharing with eight others. Victoria McLeod, 73, her daughter Mary Ann, 46 and grandson Jonathan, 27, have been staying with relatives in a two-bedroom house as they search for a place of their own.

The two women share a mattress in the home's living room Jonathan is on a bed across the room.

Their hunt for a permanent place has led them to about 50 different places, but no landlord has approved their application.

"We make an appointment and fill out applications [but] we don't get it," Mary Ann McLeod said. "I don't understand. We tried everything humanly possible to find a place."

The McLeods have to leave their current place because the home sold.

CBC News learned, from a previous landlord, that the McLeods have been reliable renters who paid on time, kept their place clean and did not party.

The only issue was an apparent complaint, by the McLeods, about cockroaches.

"If we don't find a place there from here we'll be moving underneath the bridges to live," Jonathan McLeod said.

According to housing experts, Saskatoon's rental housing market is tight and incomes are not rising to keep the market in balance.

"People are finding it harder and harder to find a place in Saskatoon," Shaun Dyck, from the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), told CBC News. "There's been a significant decrease in the amount of rental units in Saskatoon and incomes are not rising as fast."

According to SHIP, over the past 10 years home prices in Saskatoon rose 189%, rents went up 61% while incomes (after accounting for inflation) have risen 26%.

"Considering we've had population growth every year, it's quite a problem trying to find a place in Saskatoon," Dyck said. "People are finding it way harder to find a place to live that's affordable."

As the end of the month approached, the McLeods grow more anxious about where they will go.

"[I'm] so worried that we'll all be on the street," Mary Ann said. "And I don't know where to put my mom."

According to officials form Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services, if things don't work out they can cover the family for emergency shelter, but that would only be a temporary solution.

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