Other than food, perhaps the greatest need of our community members is for housing. As our area gentrifies, more and more of our community members are pushed out of their residences and they cannot find anything in the area they can afford. They come to us with their stories. Just this week a community member told me of how he travelled far into the suburbs on the promise of affordable housing only to find out that the “extras”, like hydro, put it out of his financial reach.
But to me, the poster boy for this problem is a long-time community member I will call Kip. Kip is a regular at our Tuesday drop in and dinner. Often he would be reading biographies of rock stars. He had a library of hundreds of movies. He loved doing Word Searches. He was always fun to talk to. Three months ago Kip told me that the owner of the place he had lived in for over a decade was reclaiming it to do renovations (undoubtedly as part of the change in our neighbourhood). Each week I asked Kip how the housing hunt was going. Each week he said there was nothing available in his price range.
In his situation I would have been completely stressed out. Kip was calm and positive. A few weeks before the July 1st deadline, he told me cheerily “I have lived in a shelter before, I can do it again”. Of course, the shelter would likely not be in his familiar neighbourhood. Kip’s resiliency is amazing.
At our dinner on July 3rd Kip was nowhere to be seen. I wonder if I will ever see him again.