Single dad runs straight into housing crunch while searching for Corner Brook digs

·3 min read
Robert King, seen here with his children, says the housing situation in Corner Brook has become very tight.  (Submitted by Robert King - image credit)
Robert King, seen here with his children, says the housing situation in Corner Brook has become very tight. (Submitted by Robert King - image credit)
Submitted by Robert King
Submitted by Robert King

A single father on Newfoundland's west coast is struggling to find affordable housing for himself and his young children.

Robert King has separated from his wife, and is in the process of searching for housing for himself and his two young children. But in Corner Brook, King has only found landlords flooded with applicants.

Speaking with Newfoundland Morning, King detailed some of the struggles he has faced throughout his search.

"Just finding a place here is crazy," said King. "As soon as one becomes available, you can message them and you won't even receive a message back because there's that many people that are looking. It's unbelievable."

King explained that while things are not as extreme as they appear on the province's east coast, referencing images of prospective renters and buyers lining up for viewings, he said he has viewed apartments while other people are still inside.

When King was still with his wife, the couple turned to the government inquiring about the housing program. According to him, they were told their income was too high to qualify for assistance. He would apply again following their separation, but was again turned down. On one income, King isn't sure what he'll do next.

"I got myself a decent job. It took me years to get this job. But with rent and everything else, you've got the price of gas going up ... heat and light. On one income, you can't do it."

He added that in his current home, he pays $1,200 per month in rent, but is consistently turned down for a mortgage. King is calling for more options for people in similar situations, saying N.L. Housing should have a set number of units put aside for emergency situations.

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

"The government has got to be able to step in and say 'Hey, don't worry. We've got you. You can't find a place? We've got you.' Not just turn around and say 'Well, there's nothing we can do.'"

King explained that the hardest part of the ordeal for him has been having to look at his children and know that they don't deserve what they are going through.

An all-too-common issue

According to a housing and support worker with the Community Mental Health Initiative, stories like King's are commonplace across Newfoundland and Labrador. Speaking to Newfoundland Morning, Steve Gaulton said he encounters situations like these every day.

Gaulton explained that when big development projects and economic booms come into certain areas, workers being brought into these areas require housing just like everyone else. He feels the construction of the new hospital in Corner Brook has contributed to the struggle. That, combined with global inflation, leads to significant shortages of affordable housing.

Overall, Gaulton agrees with King's assessment of the market.

"I relate it to fishing. You're just putting it out there and hoping that somebody is going to bite. Sometimes, we get lucky and get a reply back, and try and get a conversation going."

Gaulton echoes King's sentiment that there needs to be further support for people in these situations. However, finding those solutions is proving easier said than done.

"As Mr. King said, it's full of challenges. Right now, we primarily deal with the emergency side of things," said Gaulton.

"When it gets to a point where someone is on the street, then we have to avail of emergency services. We have two emergency shelters here. That's where we're at."

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