Long-time islanders in accommodation crunch
By RHONAN HEITZMANN
Special to the Driftwood
Chelsea Jones and Forest Jackson are both 32 years old and were born on Salt Spring.
The Jones family has been here since 1972. Chelsea and Forest became a couple 12 years ago.
Their oldest of six children is nine years old and the latest was just born on March 12. The family has been homeless since December when they decided to leave their rental in a duplex where Chelsea’s sister Heather Jones met her tragic end. It was impossible for the family to live in the site of such intense trauma.
They were taken in temporarily by Chelsea’s sister Tammy Walker and Paul Large.
“Thank God I have my sister,” Chelsea said.
The whole family then stayed in a room at the Sea Breeze Inne for two months, but had to leave because of the coming tourist season. They were recently taken in again by Tammy and Paul. There are now five adults and six children living in a three-bedroom house. They are all making it work for now, but it is not sustainable.
Chelsea and Forest have always been working. They have always been good tenants and have great references. Forest is now working as a manager at the Island Return-it Centre. Prior to the duplex where they had to leave, they had rented a house for six years.
“I have been renting since I was 17,” said Chelsea. “I have never had a problem until now.”
They have been checking the listings every day since December. They have checked with local rental agencies and have spread the word through their community of friends and family. They have posted a housing wanted ad. There is very little available to them and they have been denied consideration due to having a large family at least half a dozen times.
If anyone has a house that might suit this family but are concerned about water use, Salt Spring Water Co. will donate any water needed to cover any potential shortage. Ideally this family needs a three-bedroom house and can afford to pay up to $1,600 per month.
They can be reached at email@example.com or 250-221-1524.
40-year Resident Senior Facing Homelessness
Janet Marshall, 71, has been an island resident for 40 years. She has always worked hard and contributed to the community over the years as a real estate agent, denturist assistant and deli owner.
“Remember Humperdinks at the front of Gasoline Alley?” she asked with a huge smile and twinkling eyes.
I do remember that deli, but I was just a boy then. We smiled at the fond memories and felt the bond that deep roots in a community bring, though we have not known each other personally.
Janet is now retired but still volunteers time at the Lady Minto Thrift Shop. Last December she had to sell her house that her parents had bought in 1985 in order to pay off the mortgage. She luckily found a place to rent from friends but only until May 31. After that she does not know what will happen. There are long waiting lists at Croftonbrook and Pioneer Village. She has spread the word among her friends and is actively looking but has problems with her computer so cannot view online listings. Ideally she would find a place with a bedroom large enough for her bed. She can afford rent up to $900 per month.
“I know so many people and have been here so long it feels like I was born here. I don’t think I could go somewhere else and not know anybody,” Janet said.
She can be reached at 250-537-5359.
This article is one of a series on the Salt Spring housing crisis undertaken by Rhonan Heitzmann of the Salt Spring Housing Council and in cooperation with the Copper Kettle Community Partnership.