Friends of the Families’ Kees Koster (far left) is trying to help (clockwise) Jura Kuksa

Friends of the Families’ Kees Koster (far left) is trying to help (clockwise) Jura Kuksa

South Surrey couple facing homelessness once more

Time is running out for Roy Mercer, Darlene Fox and their housemates to find new accommodations.

Four months after moving into the first house they’ve lived in since the early-2000s, Roy Mercer and Darlene Fox are preparing to be homeless again.

The couple – first featured in the Peace Arch News about eight years ago – last made headlines in October, when they were told they’d have to leave a forested area in South Surrey that they’d called home for about a decade.

With the help of Friends of the Families – a local non-profit group that helps struggling families and individuals in the Lower Mainland start fresh – they moved into a house in the 2600-block of King George Boulevard in January.

After cleaning the place up – of both debris and a dubious reputation – they were told in April that the house, along with others north of theirs, was to be demolished and they had two months to leave.

“When I first moved in here, it was a pigsty,” Mercer said. “We got it looking like a home.

“Now, we’re back on the street again.”

It’s a situation Lori Ishikawa – one of Friends’ founders – described as “just sickening.”

Ongoing efforts to find affordable housing in the area have come up dry, but Ishikawa remains hopeful.

Compounding the issue, there are three others who share the house with the couple who will also be left homeless at the end of the month.

Mercer and Fox have taken two of them – seniors Ralph Spencer and Jura Kuksa – under their wing, helping them to doctors’ appointments and the like. Ali Donlin moved in last September, after the treed lot where she’d set up her tent was cleared.

Mercer is determined to keep them together.

“I’m not going to leave them high and dry,” he said. “They ask on a daily basis, ‘are you sure we’re coming with you?’ We’ve become a family and you don’t break up a family.”

While Mercer remains hopeful that their time at the house can be extended – he said they were initially told the house was theirs for two years – he admits it was not an easy place to move into. It has been a crime scene on a number of occasions over the years, frequented by police dealing with fights, sketchy individuals and even murder. The latter hit home for Mercer, who was a friend of a man who died following what police termed a “targeted home invasion” in November 2013.

(Court proceedings against two men charged in connection with Corey Bennett’s death are ongoing. Mercer said Bennett’s room is the only one he made off-limits.)

In addition to clearing copious garbage from inside the house, Mercer has taken pride in the area surrounding the home, mowing the grass and keeping the boulevard tidy, even trimming back bushes to keep the sidewalk clear

Neighbours have commented on a positive change, he said.

“They actually stop now, let me pet their animals, play with their children,” he said. Before, “they would scurry away from this place.”

While the housemates would prefer to stay put as long as possible – and locally for the long-term – if they have to move, a four-bedroom would be ideal. Between them, they can afford up to $1,800 per month and Mercer, who works part-time at a South Surrey car wash, said he’ll fix anything that needs fixing.

Time, however, is running out. Their last day at the house is May 28.

“There’s not a lot of time and there’s nowhere for them to go,” Ishikawa said, noting her group won’t hesitate to help with a move.

“They just need a roof over their heads. There’s got to be something that’s coming up.”

Ishikawa asks that anyone who can help call 604-690-2139 or email friendsofthefamilies@shaw.ca

 

Just Posted

White Rock beach was buzzing with activity on Father’s Day. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: White Rock beach buzzing with activity on Father’s Day

High of 27C drew hundreds of people to the beach

This year’s Virtual Hike for Hospice raised just over $30,000 with the support of participants including Marlene. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual hike raises $30K for Peace Arch Hospice Society

Community support smashes fundraising goal

SFN councillor Joanne Charles, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker and Coun. David Chesney listen to welcoming remarks from Chief Harley Chappell (Xwopokton). (FIle photo)
White Rock, SFN grieve together on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Residents encouraged to wear orange on Canada Day

Surrey RCMP are investigating after shots were fired at a white Jeep Saturday evening in Newton. (Shane MacKichan photo)
UPDATE: Surrey RCMP asking for video after shots fired in Newton

Surrey RCMP said a silver SUV shot at a white Jeep

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read