Renee works every day to help people who are facing severe addiction issues in her community. She provides professional counsel to men and women. She hears their stories and understands their difficulties. Little do her clients know that she is facing her own challenges.
Renee is the mother of two school age children and has a wonderful husband. However, all is not well in their world.
Her husband suffers from an ongoing back issue that prevents him from working at a steady full-time job. He does what he can, but his injury prevents him from achieving financial security in the way he would need to provide for his family.
This means that all of their income is dependent on what Renee brings home. They live pay cheque to pay cheque and week to week. “You know if I was a single person, I might be able to survive with my limited income. But with kids to feed and take care of and rent to pay, it’s just not possible,” says Renee.
As it stands, Renee and her family have no home of their own. They were residing with her sister-in-law but have recently had to move into a camper van in the backyard of a friend’s home, who has graciously decided to help them out, and turn their basement into a living space for them. “We hope the renovations will be complete before the snow falls,” says Renee.
In Regina, there is a very low vacancy rate and all that is available are places that cost well above what Renee can afford. She has to provide food, clothing and shelter for her family. Food Banks have been a blessing but as a full-time employed person, she feels that there are others that have a critical need for such assistance. The irony of it all is that because she makes a wage, she doesn’t qualify for ‘geared to income’ housing. The list for those spaces is extremely long anyhow. Therefore access is quite limited and it is unlikely that she would end up with an apartment in time for the winter.
“I know my employer wants to do better by us but their hands are tied. They receive only a certain amount of funding and have to make it stretch between salaries, programs and having a facility that meets minimum standards of care,” Renee continues.
In fact the support that the government supplies for her community-based organization is not enough. She has to work in sub-standard conditions. The building is falling apart – between shingles falling off, water leaking near electrical sockets, soft floors and the yellow stains on the walls, it’s a wonder no one has been injured, yet.
“I’m not sure if they’ve resolved the entire water leak issue because I’ve had some breathing problems, this leads me to believe there is still mold in the walls,” says Renee.
Renee continues to work and care for her family, but longs to be able to find a place to call home sweet home. She is among the many homeless working people in the province. Her family, and others in similar circumstances, needs the government to intervene and help them make ends meet. This working family is one of many that are not feeling the good effects of the economic boom in Saskatchewan.