A Penticton family is on the brink of homelessness after the home they were renting for nearly four years was sold.
Vikki Holmberg, her husband Don and their two youngest children Marshall and Ava have been living in an RV at an RV park since the start of May when they were forced to leave their previous home.
But with summer approaching Holmberg and her family have only two months before they will be forced to leave the park, making their future uncertain.
The young family has found a house to rent in the future but it is currently under renovation and the date they will be able to move in is unknown. Holmberg fears they will have to leave the RV park many months before their prospective rental home is ready to move in to.
That uncertainty coupled with Penticton’s tight rental market has led Holmberg to start a GoFundMe and reach out to the community via social media for help. She said it’s been a nearly impossible task to find an affordable rental in Penticton that’s suitable for her family.
Local social media groups for rental properties like Penticton and area house/apartment rentals paint a similar story; hordes of people posting that they are in desperate need of a place to rent with few actual listings for rental properties.
The comments sections of the few rental properties that are listed are usually quickly inundated with desperate renters trying to stand out among the crowd to secure a place to live. Holmberg said it can quickly become discouraging to learn countless people have applied for the same rental before her.
Penticton’s rental vacancy rate dropped to 1.0 percent in 2020 and average rental prices reached a new all-time high, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
For Holmberg, the rental crunch has caused her many sleepless nights. Some ask Holmberg why she doesn’t move somewhere else if she can’t find anywhere affordable in Penticton, but she says it’s just not that simple.
Her youngest daughter Ava, 10, has autism, and Holmberg worries about leaving behind the supports she has established for Ava in Penticton. She has also lived in Penticton for nearly her entire life, making it even more difficult to fathom leaving.
Right now, Holmberg is thankful for the help she received to able to stay in the RV at a discounted price. But once July comes, she worries the home undergoing renovations won’t ready and she will be unable to find anywhere else to go. “We decided to launch the GoFundMe in case we can’t find anything that’s in our price range,” she said. “We have long believed in paying it forward,” she said.
Holmberg said she’s seen many other people in the community in similar situations. “Everybody here is just scrambling, people are selling their homes at an unprecedented rate and at the prices they’re going for it’s not a good investment for buyers to keep renting at the current rate,” she said. “There’s just too many renters and not enough units.”
With no parental support network from either her or her husband’s parents, Holmberg worries daily about what will happen if she is unable to find a place. Holmberg’s GoFundMe page can be found here.