Chinna Reddy Katireddy’s heart went out to Mitch Lowry when he met him recently working at a construction site while cold and shivering.
Katireddy, managing director of the residential construction company Macropus Homes, said Lowry was working for a subcontractor at one of his Cowichan Valley building sites.
He said he was concerned about Lowry’s physical condition and suggested he go home and rest until he was feeling better.
Katireddy said he was shocked when Lowry told him he didn’t have a place to stay and had been sleeping in his truck for some time while the cold season set in.
“I was literally terrified when I heard his story,” Katireddy said. “I made a couple of phone calls to see if I could find him a place to stay, but didn’t have any success. He said he had a small 18-foot trailer but couldn’t find any place where he could park it.”
Katireddy said he offered Lowry a full-time job in his company with full benefits, gave him $1,000 to buy basic necessities and his generator to charge his trailer batteries, and suggested he park in an empty lot Macropus Homes owns in Duncan until he could find a more suitable place to live.
But the City of Duncan quickly stepped in and said the trailer is not allowed to be on the site and that it must be removed.
Lowry moved the trailer to a local RV park where he is paying $750 a month plus utilities, but he can only afford to stay there until April when the park’s tourist season begins and the costs go up.
He said the ongoing housing crisis and the skyrocketing rents that go with it have left him in dire straits after he split up with his wife, with whom he shares three children, aged four to nine.
Lowry said he spent a total of a month and half sleeping in his truck before he met Katireddy.
He said he looked for some time to find a one-bedroom apartment with a den for his children to stay in when they are with him, but the going rate these days is approximately $1,900, which is well outside of his price range.
“All I can afford is between $1,200 and $1,500, but a place in that price range with two bedrooms that will also take a dog is hard to find,” Lowry said. “I was thinking of leaving the Island, but I don’t want to leave my kids.”
Katireddy said he is seeing more and more workers in his trade in the same situation as Lowry as the housing crisis deepens, and has helped out when and where he can.
“These people have good work skills but no place to stay,” he said. “I fear good workers like Mitch will be harder to come by if this continues.”
If anyone can help Lowry out, he can be reached at 250-732-7105.