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Affordable housing strives to help residents find a place to call home

Pam, a lifelong Squamish resident, keeps crackers and snacks in her desk drawer. As Sea to Sky Community Services’ Housing Coordinator, Pam likes to be prepared.

“I never know who is going to walk through my door, or the last time they ate,” Pam explains.

In her lifetime, she has seen a marked increase in demand for affordable housing.

“Growing up, we weren’t wealthy,” Pam says, recalling times when her family needed to draw on community services to make ends meet. “Even then, we had a roof over our head.”

Pam knows, all too well, that others aren’t as fortunate. Rents have increased on average 37% between 2018 and 2021, making housing unattainable for many. In her role, she works with a wide range of people – from single parents, to people with disabilities, to seniors – who are homeless or at risk of homelessness for the first time in their lives.

“Housing is essential. Everyone deserves a place to call home,” Pam emphasizes. She and her colleagues oversee 156 units of affordable housing in three Squamish area developments: Castle Rock, Riverstone and Centrepoint. In 2023, the new Spirit Creek development will open with another 76 units of affordable housing, and plans have recently been approved in Pemberton to build the Harrow Road Affordable Housing Development, in partnership with SSCS, BC Housing and the Village of Pemberton.

For Sarah*, securing a home at Riverstone was life changing. A third generation Squamish resident, Sarah left an unhealthy relationship and was unable to afford a place of her own.

“It costs $1,000-1,200 just to rent a room in this community, which is almost my entire cheque,” says Sarah, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis. The opportunity for subsidy at Riverstone means she can live independently.

“It feels like a community and my neighbours are wonderful,” Sarah says. “It’s wheelchair accessible, so if that’s ever required, I can remain here. That’s fantastic peace of mind.”

But Sarah is quick to temper her excitement, knowing that many others are struggling. While SSCS continues to work with partners such as BC Housing and municipalities across the Sea to Sky corridor, the demand continues to exceed the supply.

That makes Pam’s job bitter-sweet. She and her team make a point of celebrating each time they hand keys over to a new tenant.

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