Family pet a casualty of housing crunch

Saanich single mother loses faith in support system

Kelly Ransome sits with son Jacob

On Saturday, Kelly Ransome was rushed to the hospital with a brain aneurysm.

She awoke in a pool of blood, the latest blow in a life where the hard-working single mother can’t seem to catch a break.

As of Monday morning, the taxi dispatcher was back on the radio, sitting on the couch of her Jolly Place home, which doubles as her office, at the start of another 80- to 90-hour work week.

In one hand is her radio, in the other a well-worn cellphone. She carries on multiple conversations while overhearing more.

Amid the various stresses that have led to Ransome’s aneurysm is a lack of safety in her home. She dearly wants a place where she and her nine-year-old son Jacob can feel safe, and where she can be reunited with her dog, a pug named Blue that she hasn’t had at home for weeks.

Ransome and her son live in Pacifica Housing’s Jolly Place townhouse complex off Glanford Avenue where they’ve been since February. But through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Ransome is now in need of yet another home. Following a traumatic assault on Ransome in November, Ransome and Jacob had been moving from one temporary housing situation to another, including motels, and needed a secure and anonymous place to begin rebuilding their life.

When Pacific Housing executive director (and former mayor of Victoria) Dean Fortin heard about the case, he wanted to help.

Through no fault of Fortin’s, however, an unexpected coincidence compromised Ransome’s whereabouts soon after she moved into Jolly Place. It was there that Jacob was assaulted until he was unconscious by similar aged boys in a case related to their recent past, she said.

“I don’t feel safe, I don’t sleep,” Ransome said. “I’m fearful and the worst part is Jacob is fearful now, and I try hard to make a safe place for him.”

The people Ransome fears the most know where she is, she says.

“I’d like to move but in this market, with a 0.5 vacancy rate and working this much, how can I?” she said.

That’s where her dog’s eviction comes in, and after a year of being overworked, assaulted and afraid, Ransome refuses to back down, she said.

In early July, the Jolly Place site manager gave her a warning to remove the dog or face an eviction notice. Rather than attempt to move in the highly competitive rental market, something that’s nearly impossible for her right now, she took the dog to a kennel, where it remains at the cost of $40 per day.

However, Ransome says she was told she could keep the dog when she moved in, and she had no intentions of giving it up. The pug was a silver lining for Ransome during her troublesome winter, when it helped her overcome the bleakest of outlooks.

“At one point the dog was all I had,” Ransome said. “Jacob was somewhere else and I was at the brink, and the dog saved my life.”

Ransome also says she had a place lined up in Langford that would allow pets, but moved into Jolly Place because it’s cheaper, and she was told not to worry about the dog. When Ransome moved in she learned that there was a no-pet policy and felt obliged to keep a low profile for the dog. She also learned several of her neighbours have pets, including dogs and cats. But when she told that to Pacifica, they wanted testimony she refused to give.

“I’m not going to upset [my neighbours’] lives just because this is a complaint-based system that doesn’t work,” Ransome said. “I’m not giving up the dog, I was never going to give it up, this is not fair,” she said.

Fortin disagrees, though he doesn’t deny knowing of the dog before Ransome moved in.

“Ultimately, we had said, ‘Kelly, get you and your child in here, this is an issue of safety. We’ll do what you have to do, deal with your dog issue later,’” Fortin said. “What I meant was, get someone to take the dog.”

Fortin said he is working to find Ransome a new accommodation, hopefully within the next month.

Ransome isn’t hopeful. She’s lost faith in Pacifica just as she’s lost faith in the support system for vulnerable women and children. As the survivors of an abusive relationship, Ransome and son have been through multiple programs with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. They’re good programs, Ransome says, but they are a one-size-fits-all and aren’t the fit she and her son have needed.

Luckily, her son was away camping with a family friend when she suffered the aneurysm.

It’s is just the latest stroke in a life of bad luck, Ransome says.

 

“I’ve worked hard to create a life where Jacob feels safe, where he doesn’t have to be afraid,” Ransome said. “My ex used to say, ‘I’d have no luck if I didn’t have bad luck.’”

 

 

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