Vancouver family forced to camp out for weeks before finding affordable home

By Staff Writer

In the early spring, Jackie Myerion and Jesse Kirkpatrick, a Vancouver couple in their thirties, pitched a tent in the idyllic Crab Park overlooking the Vancouver Harbour. Their two kids, age seven and nine, thought they were camping out. Myerion and Kirkpatrick knew better.

The family was forced out of their $1,000 a month basement apartment in Surrey when their landlord suddenly needed the space or family. They were given one month’s notice, packed their belongings in storage, and tried to stay with family. A family member’s building wouldn’t allow men or children, and family shelters were fully occupied. The family was forced to live in a tent for a few weeks before being able to stay in a friend’s camper, and ultimately, being connected with the Union Gospel Mission that helped them find a home in Surrey.

“It was stressful, devastating and very hard,” Myerion told the CBC. The couple decided to speak out about their experience to demonstrate how easy it can be for low-income families to find themselves on the streets.

“It can happen to anybody. We were good tenants. Jesse was working. But then we came down to the point of getting a tent and pitching it in Crab Park, because we couldn’t find affordable housing,” said Myerion.

Myerion’s isn’t the only person whose family is struggling through finding a home. According to a recent report entitled No Vacancy from UBC, vacancy rates for affordable homes in the greater Vancouver area is near zero, plummeting in the suburbs where many low-income families reside. According the study, the vacancy rate in Surrey fell from 5.7 per cent in 2012 to near zero in 2017.

In addition, rent for bachelor and 1-bedroom suites have gone up by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2017, and shelter occupancy has consistently been over 100 per cent.