Lavern Jack is living up to his Syilx name, Somtitsa — a word he said means “very nice man.”
As families struggle to find appropriate and affordable housing, Jack has been offering spaces at his campsite on Penticton Indian Band land for monthly deals.
Jack said he had several people come to him this summer looking for a place to stay.
“All through the summer, I had quite a few. A lot of them wanted to camp here to wait until the winter rate went down, so they could find something affordable,” Jack said. “Most of the stuff all through the summer was like $800-900 for a one bedroom, and then it went up from there, and they couldn’t afford that.”
Among those looking for a spot, he said the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society has used his campsite for three or four people — including one group of two and one single person — while they searched for something more permanent.
“The last person that they brought to me, they got him a place to stay, and then they said, if we need your help, we’ll come and we’ll bring somebody out,” he said.
He said SOSBIS was paying the rent for those people.
Jack typically only offers a daily rate, but he said people couldn’t afford to spend a full month at his daily rate.
“So I said, this is what I’ll do for you: I’ll do it by the month,” he said.
Jack said this is the first year he’s seen people coming to him as a solution — temporary or otherwise — for their housing issues.
“It never came up in the past; it just came up this year,” he said. “The other campgrounds, during the summer, they charge by the day, and there’s no monthly rental.”
Jack said one couple is still living on the campground, as they still haven’t managed to find a place.
“They might stay all winter, because they can’t afford to rent any houses, because the housing, the lowest one was $1,700 a month,” he said, referring to a two-bedroom rate.
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