WATCH: The Lapensee family of eight is searching for a new home in one of the toughest rental markets in British Columbia. Dean Stoltz reports.
Leonard Lapensee spends every day hoping for some kind of miracle as he searches the classifieds, Facebook, Kijiji and other sources for a home to rent.
“The worst fear is that they come to enforce the eviction and force everyone out onto the street and we have nowhere to go,” said Lapensee.
Leonard and his wife Lisa have six children at home, five of them in elementary school. The owner of the house they rent is returning to Campbell River to live in the house so they need to leave. They?re already well past the date they?re supposed to be out of the house and now they feel like they?re living on borrowed time.
“I fear every day that when there?s a knock on the door or the doorbell rings, there it is, it?s today,” said Lisa Head.
It’s not surprising that they can’t find a new home when the vacancy rate in Campbell River is now a measly 0.6%, one of the toughest rental markets in BC.
“It?s more often in the last couple of years that we’re seeing families coming in and of course we?re really worried because there?s children and young children that need to get up and go to school and that kind of thing and being moved around is really challenging and it puts them at risk,” said Lori McKeown, member of the local Homes First committee and Homeless Outreach and Prevention Program Manager at The John Howard Society.
“There?s like 50 people applying for each house that?s available so it?s quite the market right now,” added Lapensee.
Leonard is on disability and Lisa is a stay-at-home mom who says the cost of daycare would be prohibitive if she worked. They can afford about $1800 a month for rent, however when they do come across a suitable listing, they say they often face discrimination.
“People asking questions like are you First Nations and they hang up on you. They won?t even give you a chance to be interviewed,” said Head.
“It?s very stressful, it causes a lot of strain and we have to try and work around it,” added Lapensee.
He says they?re all trying to remain positive.
In the meantime, their belongings are packed as they wait for the knock on the door that is likely to come any day now.