Welcome to part three of the Strathmore Housing Crisis series. This mini-series documents several stories told by Strathmore and area community members detailing many aspects and perspectives around Strathmore and area's current housing situation.
The lack of housing and rental units in Strathmore has some people living in trailers and tents in our community, but what if you can't afford to stay due to the increasing rent and housing costs?
For 23-year-old Katie Doak and her husband, this is exactly the situation she found herself in, forcing her to make a big change. Moving all the way to Spruce Grove, Doak said the lack of affordable housing in Strathmore forced her to leave the community she loves.
"There was literally nothing in Strathmore. It was very stressful trying to find a place, and everywhere we looked it was either way too expensive or would not allow an animal," she said.
After her previous housing arrangement fell through Doak explained she's been living with her parents for six months before moving to Spruce Grove on July 31. She spent those six months checking everyday to see if a property would fit her budget of $1500 a month, including all utilities. Doak quickly learned this was a near impossibility, saying the apartments and rental units were more around the $2000 a month range with utilities included. If a place came up, interest was so strong that it she couldn't get in.
"It was very heartbreaking that we weren't able to stay in the town that we loved. I moved to Strathmore when I was 10 and I love it, but because there was nothing that we could afford we had to make the hard decision to leave Strathmore," Doak said.
Other former community members like Leigh Wright were also forced out, and Wright now lives in Chestermere in a house share for $1000 a month. Wright was formerly renting a three-bedroom house in Strathmore for $1200 a month, but his landlord was renovating and raising the price so Wright was priced out. When he was looking at what was available in Strathmore there was nothing that suited him, as he is a single dad and also has a son to look after. All he could find were:
- "Basements that weren't in very good shape," $800 a month
- A single room for rent on an acreage, $800 a month
- A 6 wheel trailer, $800 a month
Wright works at a farm nearby Strathmore, so he's driving into town every day for work. This puts additional strain on his wallet, as he says it's an additional $400 in fuel prices just to get to work.
Despite living in Strathmore for only one year, Wright loved Strathmore and was disappointed the housing situation forced him to leave a community he was so fond of.
"There's plenty going on, there's Stampede, there's an amazing parade, you go into town and there's a piano in the street, people are generally more chatty than in the city. The people of Strathmore, even only having been there a year, they're good people," Wright said.
Because Wright is so fond of Strathmore he hopes to see it grow and allow people the opportunity to take part in our fantastic community. Potential upcoming projects like new townhouse development or a potential new seniors' lodge could be a huge step in solving this issue, and Wright hopes to see more projects like this completed to provide affordable living options.
"I think Strathmore has a lot of potential, but the situation is driving people out," he said.
Among other ideas, Wright believes other affordable living options like trailer parks, 55+ communities, and of course more townhouses and apartments could help Strathmore residents feeling the housing pressure, and also bring new people to town.
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