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Lack of affordable housing in the Okanagan being called a crisis

Click to play video: 'Reaction pouring in after Global Okanagan airs story about a family that’s been forced to live in the woods due to a lack of affordable housing' Reaction pouring in after Global Okanagan airs story about a family that’s been forced to live in the woods due to a lack of affordable housing
Reaction pouring in after Global Okanagan airs story about a family that’s been forced to live in the woods due to a lack of affordable housing – Aug 11, 2017

A Global Okanagan story about a family living in the woods is gaining a lot of attention, especially from social agencies.

“We are in a crisis in our community,” Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) executive director Shelagh Turner said. “In our community we have fallen behind in the number of rental accommodations so there is simply a supply and demand challenge.”

On Thursday, Global Okanagan featured a disturbing story about a family of eight that lost their affordable home and was forced to set up a make-shift home in the middle of the bush.

While shocking, Turner said extreme measures, like living in the woods, are becoming more and more common.

“This is our new normal,” she said. “Right now our Federal Government is in the midst, hopefully they will provide a national housing strategy that will create both funding a framework for how we address affordable housing.”

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Kelowna’s Mayor also expressed concern about the family’s plight Friday.

“It is heartbreaking to hear,” Colin Basran said.

Basran said the city is doing everything it can to resolve the problem of affordable housing. The efforts include a number of initiatives currently underway.

“We currently have well over a 1000 rental-only units under construction soon to be in our city so that will help alleviate the situation,” Basran said.

The mayor also points out two social housing projects that are in the works that will also help.

Global Okanagan’s story has also reached BC Housing, a provincial agency that develops and manages a wide range of subsidized housing options.

BC Housing issued the following statement to Global News on Friday.

“BC Housing is aware of the situation and an outreach team has reached out to the family. Once we have connected with them, we will be able to better assess what we can do to assist them.”

The family in need has lived in the woods for two and a half months. Two of the children are aged 10 and 12 and the family hopes to find a home before they go back to school and the weather turns cold.

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