The residents of an unlicensed RV park in South Langley are facing a scramble to find new homes after the death of their previous landlord.
Mike and Merv (both preferred not to give their last names) have been living in trailers on a lot off 200th Street, south of 24th Avenue.
The lot has about 10 to 12 residents, Merv and Mike said. The actual owner of the property is apparently an absentee landlord.
The primary renter of the lot, who had been subletting to the trailer residents, died about a month ago. Shortly after, a Township bylaw officer arrived, and it became clear the residents might have to go.
“We’ve been looking at places since we got our eviction notices,” said Mike, who currently lives in a fifth-wheel trailer he owns.
As far as they know, they have to find somewhere new by the end of March, with no luck so far.
He and Merv and two others from the site have been looking at pooling their resources and renting a house together, but there is still a scarcity of places.
Some places only want families. Others don’t want pets, and Mike has a pet cockatoo.
Finding a trailer park that has an empty space and is affordable – both men are on disability – is also extremely difficult.
“We just want a place to settle down, but we can’t find a place to settle down,” Merv said.
“I have nowhere to go,” Mike said.
Fraser Holland, a homelessness outreach worker with Starting Point in Langley, has been in contact with a number of the residents about their situation.
“We’re working with all sides – RCMP, Bylaws, landlord,” Holland said.
He can’t speak about the exact circumstances of the current residents due to privacy concerns, but he confirmed Starting Point is trying to find places for those who are having trouble.
Residences like a small, unlicensed trailer park are one result of a very tight housing market in Metro Vancouver.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing’s last report on rental rates, at the end of 2018, the vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver was just one per cent, and the average rent was $1,385, up by 6.2 per cent from the year before.
Vacancy rates were fractionally higher in Langley, at 1.5 per cent.
In the wake of a brutally cold winter, people are trying to find housing wherever they can, Holland said, whether that means crashing on a friend or relative’s couch, sleeping in their vehicles, or even squatting in abandoned homes or renting a back shed.
“You end up with housing situations that are precarious for any number of reasons,” he said.
There isn’t an adequate amount of affordable housing supply for seniors, families, or people on disability or welfare in the region, Holland said.
“There’s always going to be people who will try to fill that gap with inadequate supply,” said Holland.
Right now, Mike is hoping that a landlord will be willing to rent something to him and his friends.
“I might look a little rough, but I’m not a s—t disturber,” he said.