I heart Revy Tourism Revelstoke Tom Poole Photography

I ❤️ Revy: Pandemic exacerbates housing crisis in Revelstoke

Demand for rent subsidies peaks at Community Connections


I ❤️Revy

This article is part of an ongoing initiative to build community resilience in Revelstoke by raising awareness of shared experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find first hand stories as well as results from the Community Well-being survey.

Sofia and Christian Urrego are among the wave of new Revelstokians. Having arrived from Colombia with limited English a year and a half ago, they work in the service industry at minimum wage. A good part of that gets sent back to Colombia to help support their families, whom they hope to one day bring to Canada as well.

“It was very hard to find a place to live, and very expensive,” says Christian, who initially started out renting a room in a house with an older woman in the Big Eddy.

His wife, Sofia, was meant to arrive in March 2020, but her flight was cancelled the day before she was

scheduled to fly over, due to the pandemic. As a result, Christian found himself solo in Revelstoke for the next eight months, until flights opened up again.

When Sofia arrived, his employer, Zalas, helped them find a place in Columbia Park – only to have to move again when the owners sold the house.

“It was hard to find a place to live because we don’t make much money and don’t have many connections in this town,” he says.

This became more of a challenge when their hours kept getting cut on account of reduced customers and multiple needs to quarantine.

READ MORE: I ❤️Revy: The COVID-19 pivot

Like many in town, they sought support from Community Connections, and applied for rent subsidy. Support from Community Connections has been crucial to their well-being so far, and that of their family’s. Accessing the Foodbank and Food Recovery programs has also helped them make ends meet.

According to Erin Machlachlan, BA, BSW, Housing and Outreach coordinator at Community Connections, demand for rent subsidies has never been higher.

“We saw a huge increase in rental subsidy applications from last April to this year,” she says. “BC housing then provided Community Connections with an increase in our housing supplements. We went from six per month to 26 per month,” she says.

To her, the pandemic has put pressure on already existing cracks. The housing crisis is not due to the

pandemic alone.

READ MORE: I ❤️ Revy: ‘Any sense of future and freedom I had was lost’

“Wealth inequality has existed in Canada for many years [and as a result] we are seeing more and more of an imbalance between the ‘haves and the ‘have nots’.”

Despite this being a failure by the system, she observes that many people take this on as a personal failure.

“I think these struggles become internalized by many people as shame because they cannot take care of themselves, or their family, the way they would like, [and they] are internalizing their inability to afford the cost of living as personal failure,” she reflects. “When your community cannot afford the basic necessities from full-time employment, something is amiss.”

She emphasizes that Community Connections is there to support people who come seeking support.

READ MORE: I ❤️ Revy: A lot to juggle: Single parents hit hard by pandemic

Yet, while Community Connections offers a variety of supports, the community itself plays a vital role in supporting its members.

“We are grateful to be here, because it’s safe, quiet and we love Revy,” Christian explained.

He says he is grateful for all the support he has received – including that of his employer, Zala’s. His boss helped him find their new place in Johnson Heights, as well as a car so he could get to and from work. Christian’s employer is also supporting them with their residency application.

“We love Revelstoke,” he says. “I feel in debt and blessed to have the opportunity to be here.”

READ MORE: Revelstoke survey says mental health and well-being biggest priority amidst pandemic

I ❤️ Revy is a collaborative well-being initiative by the City of Revelstoke’s Recovery Task force. This is the third in a series of articles. Together, the I ❤️ Revy team hopes to build community resilience by sharing information, tips, tools, and stories. Contributors are: Taha Attiah, Lisa Cyr, Jocelyn Doll, Benjamin Dorsey, Simon Hunt, Myles Williamson, and Sarah Windsor.

To join the conversation go to talkrevelstoke.ca/i-heart-revy


Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Jack Sutter’s show Shapes in Metal is currently on display in one of the side 
galleries at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. (Contributed)
Art for everyone: Variety of artists currently at Revelstoke gallery show

See water colours, photographs and metal sculptures until June 25

The CP station at Glacier was built in 1916. It is located at the western end of the Connaught Tunnel in Glacier National Park. This photo was taken in mid-June, 2021. (Contributed)
LETTER: Historic but not preserved

Submit letters to the editor to jocelyn.doll@revelstokereview.com

Tania McCabe is the city’s director of finance. (File photo)
What’s going on with my property taxes? Q&A with Tania McCabe

Deadline to pay property taxes in Revelstoke is July 2 this year

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

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

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

The Pierre family, an Indigenous family, once lived in what is now downtown Summerland. Today, Pierre Drive is named in honour of the family. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Pierre family played role in Summerland’s history

Downtown Summerland was once Penticton Indian Reserve #3

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

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

Most Read