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Widower living with toddler at B.C. rest stop desperate for housing


A father living in an RV in B.C.’s Fraser Valley with his toddler for more than a year has become even more desperate to find housing after facing a tragic loss.

Chris, 44, has been staying at the Cole Road rest stop in Abbotsford with his 18-month-old boy.

“He’s all I care about and it’s going to be that way forever,” said Chris.

Like other rest stops and Park-and-Rides through Abbotsford, this one has become a makeshift trailer park filled with campers. Some of them say they have nowhere else to go because of escalating rental costs.

We first met Chris last February, camping in the same trailer with his partner Danielle, their son and their dog. They were looking for a way out.

“I’m embarrassed. I hate it. I don’t like it but what other option do I have?” Chris said in an interview at the time.

He said he had just begun working part-time and both he and Danielle seemed to be getting back on their feet again.

Until tragedy struck.

He said Danielle suddenly died inside the trailer. Chris said her cause of death has not been determined, but medical issues and drugs are believed to be factors.

“I have to stay strong for my son because I know there’s a lot more hard times coming,” Chris said.

The widower said living in an RV comes with challenges. Things that most people take for granted become complicated.

Taking a shower, for example, means catching a ride with his young son to a rec centre.

“Turning on an oven to make a pot of soup or turning a light on, I have to turn a generator on to turn a light on. I need gas for my generator. I need butane for my stove to cook,” he explained.

He said without a fixed address, he receives around $625 a month on social assistance and that he’s been trying to get into subsidized housing for years.

“I just want to be inside in a regular house like I grew up in. I want to give him the best chance to be the kid that he can be,” Chris explained.

He said his living situation is just another example of the difficult realities of B.C.’s housing crisis.

“There’s not a place on Craigslist right now that you can get for under $1,000. That’s a bedroom,” he said.

B.C.’s housing minister told CTV News that, “It’s absolutely heartbreaking anytime someone finds themselves into an encampment or out of housing.”

Ravi Kalon said his government is working with Abbotsford to build more than 200 affordable homes, but recognizes more are needed.

“We’re quite frankly two years behind when it comes to building affordable housing in our communities,” he said.

Chris said ministry staff and outreach workers have been assisting him and have promised housing help, but so far nothing has changed.

Meanwhile, the minister has promised his staff will look into Chris’s situation.

“We have consistently prioritized anyone with children, anyone that’s pregnant. We know how important it is to get those folks stabilized and we have, in many cases, been able to help people in a timely manner,” Kahlon said.

Since 2017, the province has completed or started construction on nearly 80,000 homes, the ministry told CTV News on Friday, after this story was published.

That total includes 998 homes in Abbotsford, of which 485 are completed and 513 are underway. The province has provided $80 million in capital and operating funding toward these projects.

As for Chris, he’s grateful for a park next door to the rest stop so his toddler has a place to play. He’s also thankful for neighbours who help him.

“People will bring us food, will bring us water,” he explained.

The extra help is making things a little easier as he tries to build a life for the son he’s now raising alone. Top Stories

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