10 days until homeless: Greater Victoria family faces an ‘out of control’ rental market

10 days until homeless: Greater Victoria family faces an 'out of control' rental market
CHEK
CHEK reporter Kori Sidaway (left) speaking with Michael Sharcott, whose family is facing homelessness after receiving an eviction notice for landlord use.

Update: After CHEK News aired his story, Michael Sharcott was able to secure housing for him and his family. Read the update here. The original story is preserved below.

 

A hardworking husband and father has 10 days until his family of three is on the streets.

“It’s out of control, there’s no availability. The costs of the unit are outside of our budget to start with and there are 30 families deep trying to rent them,” said Michael Sharcott.

Two months ago, when Sharcott got the news their landlord had plans to use their unit for a family member who couldn’t afford to live on their own while they study for school, he started searching for a new home.

Since then, he’s sent hundreds of requests to landlords and seen dozens of apartments but hasn’t been able to find a home.

“It’s a full-time job trying to find housing for us. We quickly found out three-bedrooms were out of our price range. Then we started to look at two-bedrooms, but there seems like there’s none available, with landlords preferring to rent to students,” said Sharcott, who has now resorted to looking at one-bedroom units for their family of three.

Sharcott is a hardworking family man. By day, he works as a grocery store manager, by night he’s the caretaker for his wife on disability and his eight-year-old son.

“They’re the most important people in my life. If I have to spend every ounce of money that I make to find them a place to live, that just needs to be done,” said Sharcott.

But Sharcott is getting desperate. His family of three is just 10 days away from being homeless with an eviction date of Aug. 1.

“I gotta find something. Being a grown man crying because you can’t find a place for family even though you’re working so hard because everything else is stopping you from finding something, is tough,” said Sharcott. “Worst case scenario [my wife and son] will go to the shelter. And I’ll stay in my van.”

They’re not the only ones teetering on the edge of homelessness. It’s widely accepted that paying more than 30 per cent of income for housing is “unaffordable.”

According to a new study Can’t afford the rent: Rental wages in Canada 2022 by The Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives, to afford a one-bedroom apartment in British Columbia without spending more than 30 per cent of their pay, someone has to be earning $27-54 an hour.

It’s a wage that’s out of reach for many in the province. Even more difficult if your partner can’t work and is on disability.

Sharcott says from what he’s observed there needs to be more of a focus on building student housing in the region because the lack of such is pitting students against families to compete against the same housing.

He also suggests a possible federal subsidy to offset the “out of control” rental rates for families. Otherwise, he says more families will be living in cramped conditions, or facing the possibility of having no roof over their heads at all.

“I’m down to [10] days until we’re homeless,” said Sharcott.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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