This has been the worst six months of my life.
I came home from my summer holidays to discover a for sale sign outside our row housing complex. Now, I have lived here for almost 33 years, more half half my life. How did that happen?
I drove up the street to finally see Richard Tetrault painting the longest mural in Vancouver on the wall at the end of the street. I had been trying to make that mural happen for 32 years so I was really happy. I walked into the house really excited and then I heard the news and my ecstasy turned to agony. I was going to lose my home just before an election.
Not quite. The election came and went and I did lose the election but I didn’t lose my home. Not then, though many of you heard the rumors. What happened was it didn’t sell until December. In January we met the new owners who wanted some post-dated cheques but they said that they hadn’t decided or weren’t going to tell us what they were planning to do with the place.
Did I tell you I had tried to get some friends together to buy it but in the midst of the chaos of the election we couldn’t pull it together though Veda Hille was interested?
Needless to say I was a bit of a wreck after losing the election, so I was glad they didn’t know what they wanted to do. Everyone was asking me what was happening to my housing situation and telling me that I had to start looking for another place to live.
Did I tell you that my aunt died and my only niece became deathly ill? She still is. So I didn’t really want to look for a new home. I just wanted to crawl under my bed and hide. Surely nothing more could happen if I laid low.
As I was drinking my morning cup of tea thinking about life, I heard a crash, looked out the window to discover someone had driven into my neighbour’s car which then crashed into mine which then crashed into my other neighbour Denis’s car.
No problem I thought and took the car to ICBC. They took a look at the bumpers and said my lovely red 1992 Ford had to be junked. Ugh. My lovely mechanic Steve may have saved the day on that one but will find out next week. Not environmentaly ok to just junk old cars that still work.
Where was I? Oh yes I was supposed to be looking for a new home.
Okay so we started looking for a home by applying for coop housing as I am a cooperative kind of person. I went up on the BC Cooperative Housing Federation website and found a few that had open lists. We submitted our applications and our cheques and waited. Actually we are still waiting four months later. Our cheques were cashed but not even one call back. Luckily a coop we heard about from a friend just called this week and we will have an interview on Sunday to decide if they will put us on their ten-year wait list.
My partner at this point is ready to head to the country. Who can blame her?
I finally decided to check out Craig’s List and Kijiji. I had some hope and a list of what we wanted and needed. We are looking for a sunny, spacious, affordable, like around $1,200, two-bedroom place with a porch and a garden. My partner would really like some place quiet. We did think about buying but after looking a one lovely condo in a very moldy building that sold the day it went on the market we realized that we are both living on our savings and couldn’t afford one anyway. So that idea was taken off the drawing board.
Then we thought that we would put an ad on Craig’s List as any landlord would jump at the chance to house us. I haven’t missed a rent payment in 32 years, we keep our place clean – in fact we take out our neighbour’s garbage as they aren’t quite as clean -, J is an incredible gardener and we get along well with all our neighbours.
Well, we are still looking. This week the new landlord started tearing apart the two empty units on either side of us. He still hasn’t told us what his plans are for the place nor has he requested any permits from the city. It is pretty noisy right now but I look out the front window at our gardens: “we” are Green Street gardeners. The bulge is full of red and yellow tulips with a blue stream of violets weaving through it. The roundabout is shimmering with pink heather and spotted with white hyacinths. The front and side of our building are just about ready to burst into colour. We really don’t want to move but keep looking around discouraged by reports from friends who are looking. Some planning friends are leaving in July for jobs and a home in Winnipeg.
You’d think a Prime Minister who spends over $25 billion a year of our hard earned tax payer’s money on the “Defense” of Canada could make better use our money by spending it on a National Housing Program. Did you know that we are the only G8 country that doesn’t have one? You might remind him the next time you see him. I sure will.
Meanwhile we’ll keep looking around. Sure glad the sun just came out. I wish those guys next door could keep the hammering down.
~ Ellen Woodsworth
A version of this article first appeared in The Vancouver Courier.