Lack of affordable housing pushes young family out of La Pêche
Sam Maloney can no longer afford to live in her own community — the community
she’s called home for 15 years; the community where her kids go to school and play with friends; the community she’s been woven into as part of the fabric of the Gatineau Hills.
“I feel like I have no options,” she said.
It’s a busy Friday at the single mother of three’s Wakefield home and she’s got her hands full. She’s trying to occupy her toddler – her oldest is a big help and half of her house is packed up in boxes. They can’t find the remote control to the TV, so her oldest pulls out a book and starts reading to her younger sister so we can continue our chat.
“There is no option for me. What am I going to do? We have to leave because there is nothing for us here,” she continued.
Soaring rents and a lack of affordable housing in the region have forced Maloney and her three kids to leave the village of Wakefield and move north up to Danford Lake, where she said she hopes she can afford to make ends meet every week.
She’s been forced out of her current three-bedroom home on Riverside Drive, where she has paid a “reasonable” $1,375 per month for the last four years with no increases. Owners now need to house family members in the space. And with nothing in her price range, Maloney said she has no choice but to move to Danford Lake with friends temporarily until a more suitable solution is found. The rent up the line will be comparable, she said.
A quick search on Realtor.ca shows just eight available rentals between Chelsea, Wakefield and Cantley, with the average monthly price sitting at $3,349 — far beyond Maloney’s price range. This newspaper rarely gets rental classifieds anymore; the most recent being a four bedroom house in Wakefield at $2,500 per month for a seven month lease.
Maloney said leaving the village behind is heartbreaking for her and her family.
“They are really sad,” said Maloney. “They’re leaving all of their friends. My son can walk to school, he can jump in the river on the way to the Wakefield Activities for Youth [WAY]. That’s all gone now.”
Moving her family more than 50 kilometres away will add to the burden of daily life for the working single mom, as she will have to drive everywhere they need to go and spend extra money on gas. School is further for her youngest; it’s closer for her oldest, who goes to St. Mike’s, but all of her friends hang out in Wakefield, usually on Maloney’s covered porch.
She’ll also have to drive more than 100 kilometres round trip if she wants to keep her full-time job at Auberge Belle de Nuit in Wakefield. Speaking of the new development near Vorlage ski hill, Maloney said she is disappointed to see condos being rented for over $2,000 in a place that used to be the site of a trailer park for low-income residents.
While it would be nice to ski in and ski out of her home, she said she knows she may never be able to afford the homes that are being built today.
“It’s absolutely galling,” she said. “I just…I cringe. It’s just really tough right now.”
Regional stats show a ‘crisis’
Maloney isn’t alone in her situation and the region’s housing crisis is not improving according to data from La Table de développement social des Collines-de-l’Outaouais (TDSCO). Its 2021 housing report revealed that close to 3,000 residents in the MRC des Collines are living in homes they can’t afford. The data shows that 15 per cent of MRC households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. The 30 per cent income-to-housing ratio is the threshold used by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to consider a home “affordable.”