Shadae Sommerville moved to the Island for school, but after two years and becoming a part of the work force here, she finds herself in the middle of Charlottetown’s housing crisis.
“It is kind of hard trying to find somewhere to rent,” she said.
In 2017, when Sommerville came to P.E.I. for Holland College’s accounting program, the college had an agreement with the Charlottetown Inn to allow students to stay for an extended period.
Now, she has just renewed her contract with the Charlottetown Inn to stay even longer, trying to make the best of the ongoing housing issues plaguing the city.
“It isn’t bad accommodations at all, it is more the cost and wanting to have a place of our own.”
Sommerville’s husband, Levi, recently arrived the Island as well, and both are looking to contribute to Island society as soon as possible and live their lives.
But housing remains a huge obstacle.
“I think it is a combination of (issues). Affordable rent would definitely be one,” she said.
“You do see (places) that you definitely want to go for, but it is so out of the range of affordability, and that is really frustrating,” she said.
While she isn't sure about the zoning bylaws for building in the city, she said more affordable rental buildings should be built to accommodate people who worked or go to school in the city.
“I will tell my friends that (the Island) is so nice and it is a nice place to grow and contribute, too, and help diversify … but the housing situation is something that needs to be fixed."
- Shadae Sommerville
Sommerville was one of close to two dozen renters from all around Charlottetown who gathered at the Confederation Centre Library last Tuesday for a presentation on the rights and responsibilities of renters.
“You end up having to looking outside of Charlottetown, like Stratford or even Summerside, and that isn’t even feasible if you don’t have a vehicle,” she said.
“Creating long-term rentals is another thing because you see some rentals that are just for the winter season ... and it is a hotel and I understand, but you have (places) that are doing limited leases.”
Sommerville said she hoped something would be done in the next couple of years to solve the problem.
“I will tell my friends that (the Island) is so nice and it is a nice place to grow and contribute, too, and help diversify … but the housing situation is something that needs to be fixed,” she said.
The presentation, put on by Community Legal Information Association of P.E.I. with help from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC), touched on renter and landlord relationships, processes of appealing and what are the responsibilities of both renters and landlords.
Sherry MacLean found the presentation helpful as a senior renting in Charlottetown for the last year.
She said although her rental situation is ideal, the housing problem in Charlottetown has reached a point of serious consequences.
She explained that people don’t feel secure in where they live anymore.
“I think we’re in a crisis,” she said. “There are zero rentals, and when that happens it shifts to the responsibility of landlords because people are afraid to say anything for fear of being evicted. There is no where to go … people don’t feel safe anymore.”