Victoria mother struggles to find housing after losing business during pandemic


After losing her business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Victoria mother and her 13-year-old son have found themselves experiencing homelessness.

Single-mother Theresa Innes says finding affordable housing or staying at a shelter is “nearly impossible.”

Innes put her life savings into a salon business that she was planning to open in Duncan back in 2020, but then the pandemic hit.

She was forced to shut her business down and went into survival mode, working odd jobs on the side while searching for housing which proved difficult.

“Speaking with landlords, they’re having 250 applicants per suite. You got credit checks, you got all these things,” said Innes, “and kids are a deterrent. Some people even say you can’t discriminate, but they do.”

Innes says she’s called multiple shelters and transitional housing facilities across Vancouver Island without success.

“They’re full,” said Innes.

But it’s a problem that isn’t isolated.

One report found that housing prices made Victoria one of Canada’s least affordable cities, as the rise in inflation prompts more people to seek community services such as food banks.

“Without a doubt, the number one issue in our community right now in relation to poverty is the housing affordability crisis,” said Douglas King, executive director at Together Against Poverty (TAPS).

King says the number of people seeking TAPS services has increased throughout the pandemic.

“What we see is those trends, and the biggest trend has been how hard it is for people to transition from one place to the next,” he said.

King adds that there should be a bigger push to keep existing housing affordable, instead of solely focusing on adding more housing.

“Any time someone faces eviction, they look at the possibility of homelessness. They’re staring at homelessness in the face. That’s an incredibly stressful thing for someone to deal with,” he said.

Innes has some job interviews lined up and is couch surfing until she finds a permanent solution, while her son stays with friends as the school year begins.

“I just feel bad for him,” added Innes. “No kid should have to worry about where he’s going to sleep.”

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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