Tara Marchand says she was evicted from her Saskatoon home on March 29, 11 days after giving birth to a baby boy.
The single mother of five couldn’t pay the rent and has struggled to find a new place to live.
“We’re all going to get separated, unfortunately, if we don’t find anywhere to go,” Marchand told Global News.
Social services put the family up at a hotel, she said.
“They told me that they weren’t going to help me after Friday,” she said.
“I don’t want to be separated from my children and I feel like that’s the direction that I’m getting pushed into.”
The 30-year-old said it’s been exhausting to apply for homes while caring for her kids, including her newborn, who’s in hospital with a possible blood infection.
She began searching prior to being evicted, and has filled out dozens of rental applications with no luck. Private housing companies have denied her applications, she said, while non-profits have put her on waiting lists.
The biggest challenges are having few options and bad credit, she said.
“It’s ridiculous how many places I’ve applied to and I’ve still got ‘nos’ and no answers back,” she said.
“I’ve done a lot of work to get to where I am and it just feels like I’m being punished.”
Kayleigh LaFontaine, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan’s integration worker, is trying to help Marchand find a place.
“Your credit check should not indicate if you deserve housing,” LaFontaine said.
“There’s a lot to figure out here and the pressure doesn’t need to be put on so immensely.”
LaFontaine emailed several social services higher-ups on Thursday, detailing Marchand’s “crisis situation.” Less than two hours later, a ministry employee told Marchand her emergency shelter funding will be extended until she finds a new home, LaFontaine said.
LaFontaine said she’s relieved the family of six won’t end up on the street, but hopes someone offers them a place soon.
Saskatchewan’s social services ministry said its staff can connect people to housing, income support and child and family programs.
“If a person ever experiences a situation where they may lack the resources to pay for their basic shelter needs, we are here to help,” Jeff Redekop, income assistance service delivery executive director, said in a statement.
“Once an individual or family’s emergency housing needs are met, income assistance staff will begin working with them on a longer term plan for stable housing.”
Staff connect people to community organizations or the Saskatoon Housing Authority, which has 1,150 units for families, Redekop said. About 200 of those units are vacant.
Big families have far fewer options, so Marchand’s situation is common, according to the head of a non-profit housing provider.
“We’re getting applications from folks that can afford market-level housing, but they can’t find it,” said Toby Esterby, Camponi Housing Corporation executive director.
Roughly 21 of the 79 people on Camponi’s waiting list need a home with four or more bedrooms, he said. The average wait time for those spaces is two and a half years.
Families waiting for homes often couch surf or move from place to place — a population referred to as the “hidden homeless,” Esterby said.
“The solution for a homelessness problem is creating homes,” he said, adding all three levels of government can support the effort.
Marchand hopes to find a place through the Saskatoon Housing Authority, so she and her children can stay together.
Moving forward, she said people with many children or bad credit should not be punished in the search for housing.
“There’s too many barriers that I can’t control,” she said. “It’s been a really long haul.”