Chilliwack – A Chilliwack mom, Amber Ragan and her four year old son Elijah moved into their one-bedroom apartment in September of 2019. Finally a home they can call their own.
The euphoria was short lived.
Amber is a single, indigenous Mom to her 4 year old son, who does have some special needs that reamin in a diagnosis stage.
Her advocate is Marina Garmon, the Programs and Services Coordinator with Unique Get Together Society (UGTS) in Chilliwack. Garmon has been working with Amber and her son. UGTS assist kids and their family that need services that address anxiety and autism.
In a media release, Garmon noted: My client has been residing at a Williams Street apartment in Chilliwack. My clients’ unit, as well as most other units in the building are infested with bed bugs and cock roaches. She made this known to her landlord,in September 2020, who then gave her, and all tenants in the building an illegal rent increase in December 2020 to “deal with the infestation.”
In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, the landlord produced receipts for extermination work done.
NOTE: The Province has put a freeze on rent increases due to COVID financial hardships. That freeze is until the end of 2021. This rent increase freeze does not include commercial tenancies, non-profit housing tenancies where rent is geared to income, co-operative housing and some assisted living facilities.
When Marina called the landlord, he said to me, “I am not responsible to deal with this, as she could have brought them in.” I let him know it is in fact his responsibility, and he became what sounded aggravated with me. I let him know that my client had to take her child and go to a hotel, which cost her approx. $1800 for the month. When I asked for reimbursement of this money, he told me, “No, this is not my problem.”
Garmon reached out to Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl, Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter, Fraser Health, and the City of Chilliwack. Because this is not a public location, there is not much they can do, except assist with the RTB (Residential Tenancy Branch) regarding the illegal rent increase. I have now gone a step further and contacted such media outlets as CBC, Global, CTV, City TV,chillTV, FVN and the Vancouver Sun.
I want to help my client get this out to the public, to make people aware that it is not ok to be charging almost $1000 a month to reside somewhere that is inhabitable. We would like for the landlord to be held accountable for allowing human beings to live in a space that is not fit for any human being to live, sleep, or eat. ESPECIALLY with a small child.
Garmon is hoping that by going public, she can help the family and others in a similar predicament.
The exposure of this story helped the cause.
Chilliwack Community Services is providing meals for Amber and Elijah. The Mom and Son are being reimbursed for rent hike money already paid and the landlord will abide by the COVID rent freeze. Orkin will pay for bug fumigation for free. Garmon said that would not have happened had she not gone to media.
Amber and her son were living in a hotel room without a kitchenette. They are moving to another hotel that is closer for Elijah ( who is non-verbal) to get to day care and other agencies are picking up the expense.