Two years ago, Gary was a carpenter. His kids spent every other week with him at his house in Renfrew. Then Gary lost his job. He wasn’t worried at first, but his optimism faded as the months passed. Gary squeezed essentials out of his EI benefits, but costs continued to climb. When his mortgage rate went up, he couldn’t pay it. Gary sold his house. The proceeds gave him a minute to breathe. He started renting a small apartment, but there was no space for his kids. With no job and no family, Gary fell into a deep depression. That’s when Gary’s landlord raised his rent.
For the past two weeks, Gary has been living in his car.
We hear these types of stories every day. An injury, an emergency repair, or a layoff are things that any of us can face. But for some Calgarians, it can mean staying in unsafe or inappropriate housing or becoming unhoused. These are real choices that about 115,000 Calgarians are facing right now.
In the fall, VCC in partnership with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy released a study on how many people are at risk of homelessness in our city. But what was missing in the research was how having so many people in core housing need in our city is affecting our neighbours, our communities, and our families.
Our team talked about what we’ve heard over the past couple of years and how we could share stories that show different scenarios that are playing out in the very real housing crisis Calgary is experiencing.
Gary is not a real person. But for many, his story is all too real. His story was one of four that we published today to get people talking and thinking about affordable housing and solutions. We invite you to read the stories and, if you’re comfortable, tell us what you’re hearing and experiencing on Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok.
Some things are clear. It's never one thing that forces someone out of their housing, the reasons may surprise you and people close to you may be at risk. What’s also clear is that this issue is solvable and all levels of government have a role to play in adding to, and maintaining, affordable housing in our city.