Let me tell you a shocking story that occurred exactly three years ago TODAY.
Lisa and I had been renting a basement suite from this family for about five years here in Kelowna. Liam was born and spent his first year there too.
Then FOUR DAYS after we returned home from the hospital and NICU after Madison and Ethan were born, we were served an eviction notice due to us “exceeding the occupancy level of the house”. We were given 60 days to pack up and get out.
We were so exhausted, so overwhelmed that it didn’t even sink in for a day or two. We wasted the first month looking for another rental. In Kelowna at that time, the rental market was headline news every other week, as the vacancy rate was 0.1% So, it didn’t take long to call every available suite.
No word of a lie we heard it all from the landlords. Every reason and excuse to keep a new family of 5 out of their rental. And then the price left us paralyzed. A 3-bedroom was renting for anywhere between $2,000 - $2,600 We quickly discovered that a mortgage on the same property would cost us between $1,800 - $2,400.
So, we hired a realtor and plunged into the idea of become home owners. But we were too late. By 2016 so many of the mortgage rules had changed due to the economy collapse of 2007. We were horrified to discover that we didn’t meet the qualifications as bank after bank turned us down.
Finally, Interior Savings took a chance on us and provided financing. But by then, we only had a few weeks left.
We looked at over 30 houses that summer. We were mortgage approved and put offers in on 7 houses - 4 of which were ACCEPTED. But for various and VERY bizarre reasons they all fell through. Even Heidi, our realtor was speechless and perplexed with what was occurring.
Finally, with only a week remaining before our family of five which included three kids under the age of two were about to be homeless and thrown onto the street... Heidi found us one final home to look at.
We didn’t like it. It was far too small. It didn't have lights in any of the rooms other than the hallway and the kitchen. It was in a weird, under-developed and inconvenient area of the city. The yard was clay and weeds with no fence protecting us from the main road coming into the community. But we said, “what the hell, we don’t have any other options” and we threw an offer at the owners.
The offer was accepted and five days later we moved in.
Three years later, our tiny 924 square foot mobile home is now home base to not only the five of us, but has become a revolving door to more than a dozen therapists and doctors checking in on us multiple times a day.
Somehow we’ve made it work but I’m not sure for how much longer we can survive as with each session more and more equipment and supplies keep entering the house.
One of the first things we did was build a yard. We brought in two or three dump trucks full of soil, a dozen pallets of sod and 70 cedar trees. We also managed to snag the deal of a lifetime on some high-end carpet and underlay and somehow miraculously haul the huge rolls into our home. We then hired someone to lay and install it in the living room - seeing as we had three babies all practically LIVING on the floor.
We financed state of the art appliances in an attempt to save space as one by one the original ones broke down. We installed storage solutions where we could, we enclosed our deck and began renovations on the garden shed to make it a comfortable, usable space as a home office. We've shuffled bedrooms, we've rearranged furniture and we began the painful process of purging item by item, box by box to cram our family into our living space.
Despite our efforts we're still overcrowded in our 924 square feet with the irony of being rejected for rentals because landlords were convinced we couldn't possibly fit into a 1,200 square foot place with our family.
We lose stuff daily. Our piles of stuff simply get rearranged and relocated in our space on a daily basis. And yet, we're grateful for a place to call home.
Birthdays and Holidays have been celebrated here, first steps were taken here and epic Taco Tuesdays continue to occur here with friends and family. While on the flip side, horrific injuries have happened here, mice have cohabited with us for a time and we received our children's special needs diagnosis' here.
At the end of the day, we've made it work. We've been resourceful and creative. It may be a full house but we've packed it full of as much love as we can and are doing the best to ensure our kids understand the power of gratitude and community.
We're grateful for the friends and family who made it possible for us to purchase this home and assisted in helping us move with three kids under the age of two.
We've had to accept that for whatever reason, we're meant to be here as absolutely every other option dissolved right in front of us. One day our home will hopefully be a bit larger, but for now, we have a roof over our heads and our needs met so we are thankful.