British Columbia

Couple who lived in B.C. garden shed still homeless

A homeless couple in Kelowna, B.C., who had to leave the garden shed they were living in after a city inspector forced them out are still without a place to rent.
Dean Schaffler and his partner have money to pay rent, but can't find a place in Kelowna that will also let them keep their three dogs. (Brady Strachan/CBC News)

A homeless couple in Kelowna, B.C., who had to leave the garden shed they were living in after a city inspector forced them out are still without a place to rent.

In October, a woman rented her backyard, store-bought, sheet-metal garden shed to Dean Schaffler and his partner — and their three dogs — for $200 a month. Electrical power was supplied to the shed through a single extension cord.

But the City of Kelowna fined the woman $500 for ignoring a warning and continuing to let the couple and their pets live there, saying it was unsafe.

"It was sufficient. We had insulation, we had a heater, we had a TV," Schaffler said.

That was two weeks ago, and Schaffler, his partner, Mary-Lynn Coleman, and the dogs have been back on the street ever since.

"Well, I tell ya, it's not an enviable position to be in. But we're hoping something shows up," Schaffler told CBC News.

'This is no existence'

The couple spent the summer living in the open air and now receive $540 a month in housing assistance, but Schaffler said they’re having trouble finding a place for two people and three dogs at that price.

"I'd be in there so fast it would make their head spin. It would be remiss of me not to, right? Like, this is no existence, you know?"

Schaffler, his partner and dogs were happy live in this shed for several weeks. (Stephen Fleming/City of Kelowna)

Schaffler said the animals are well-behaved.

"They're all wonderful, as you can see. They're very tame."

The group has been spending their days on the sidewalk with cardboard sign on their shopping cart saying "desperately need place to rent."

There is room for the couple and their dogs at a local shelter, but the animals would have to stay in a separate room, which distresses them, said Schaffler.

Schaffler said he's not giving up on his animals, even if it means sleeping outside as the coldest months of the winter approach.

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan