Editorial: Lack of affordable housing rears its ugly head as winter looms

Are we suddenly living in a Third World country?

With the temperatures starting to dip well into the single digits at night again, fall and winter are once again bringing the affordable housing crisis in the Cowichan Valley into sharp focus.

Today we brought you the story of a Cowichan couple who, though they both have a modest income, are facing a winter in an uninsulated trailer that has no running water or electricity. They cannot find anywhere better to live that they can afford. They are far from the only ones facing similar problems. From single parents with kids who can’t make ends meet on minimum wage, to seniors confronted with possible homelessness if they can’t make the monthly rent on a motel room, there is a crisis in our Valley.

Are we suddenly living in a Third World country? In a country as prosperous as ours, how is it that we still have people who can’t afford something as basic as a decent roof over their heads?

There isn’t one simple answer, but reasons include the fact that incomes have not kept pace with the cost of living for decades now. Housing, in particular, has become scarce and sought-after, with even the most decrepit sometimes coming at a premium. There also hasn’t been much low-cost housing, for rent or purchase, built in that time.

This is why our governments, local, provincial, and federal need to step in to create new affordable housing, so that people like Joseph Gaetan-Pelletier and Lorie Dubuque can have somewhere decent to rent. Shouldn’t it be hard enough to have bone cancer, without having to face freezing temperatures in inadequate housing?

It’s disgraceful that we have so abandoned those in need. Everybody deserves a roof over their heads. Our country is wealthy enough to help provide it. What has been missing is that it hasn’t been made a priority. While that is beginning to change, those changes can’t come fast enough.

While we wait for those systemic changes, we hope someone might have a place for a couple in need of a home.

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