Family living in tent in Greater Victoria desperate to find affordable rental

Family living in tent in Greater Victoria desperate to find affordable rental

WATCH: A working family with a nine-year-old daughter has been living in a tent in View Royal for the past month because there is nowhere else to go. April Lawrence reports.

At first glance, it may look like Tammy Stephens and her family are enjoying a summer camping trip at a View Royal campground but it is no vacation.

The tent they’ve set up is their home.

“It’s been starting to cool down at nights so feels a bit chilly,” said Stephens.

Stephens nine-year-old daughter Ocean should be heading back to school with her classmates, but living in a campground makes getting there difficult.

“She’s an amazing girl to be so positive but she would like to have home back,” said Stephens, who also has an 18-year-old daughter.

And the family did have an affordable four-bedroom home just a few months ago, but it was sold and they were forced out.

“It’s quite the dramatic change but trying to stay positive and make the best of it I guess,” said Stephens’ husband Tyler Lumley.

They did find another place but came home a month ago to find a Do Not Occupy notice taped to the front door by the Town of View Royal.

They had to be out immediately.

“It was completely anxiety ridden, total fear all over again,” said Stephens.

With no family to lean on, and no affordable housing available, they had nowhere left to turn.

“Unfortunately help for families in our situation with kids is next to nothing,” she said.

So the family has been at the campground ever since.

Lumley, who is a full-time carpenter,  gets up each morning and catches the bus to work while Tammy focuses on finding a place to live.

With the campground closing permanently soon, she’s worried she’ll end up on the street, something she says the Ministry of Children and Families is keeping an eye on.

“If it does come down to me not being able to be here anymore, they will remove my child, so that adds nothing but crazy amount of fear,” said Stephens.

Sadly, Tammy Stephens’ housing nightmare is not unique in Greater Victoria.

“We hear stories like this every day at T.A.P.S. and we need a systemic change to address this crisis,” said Together Against Poverty Society tenant legal advocate Emily Rogers.

“We need concrete changes to the residential to increase rent controls and make sure people aren’t displaced from rental units,” she said.

But any changes may come too late. The days are running out before the loving family not only loses their makeshift shelter but potentially each other.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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