“Is it still possible to find a home for someone like me?” Nicole Zyczynski asked in her newspaper ad.
After five years living on Woods Road, Nicole has to find a new place to live and, as any Bowen renter will tell you, it’s not easy. For nine months, Nicole has been searching for her new home.
As Nicole doesn’t use Facebook or other social media (though she did use MySpace in its day) the choral director for Men on the Rock and three other choirs, took out a half-page ad in the Undercurrent last October.
“I do ads all the time for Men on the Rock men’s choir and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is how I’ve got to do it,’” she says. She took out the biggest ad she could afford and laid it all out there.
“Born October 11, 1975 in West Vancouver,” her ad read.
“The first time I set eyes on this beautiful paradise I fell in love with it,” it read. “I have family and friends on the other side of the water but not even they can convince me to stay a night away from this paradise.”
“People know me because of the [Men on the Rock] concerts,” says Nicole. “People have seen my face enough now in the community. So I’m a friendly face. They know they can trust me.
“So what. I’ll give them all my telephone number and my email and tell them what colour my underwear are,” she laughs. “It was just my little bio, my little CV, basically saying I’m an honest person, consider me in your rental and if you have a home.”
But Nicole still hasn’t found a home. After the first ad, she had a few people call her up with either places or suggestions, but nothing quite fit.
Some of the problem, as with much of B.C. housing, is cost.
“I know my rent, something that I’m looking for, has doubled. Like, what I have now for $1,500, I know if I were to get it now would probably be $3,000,” she says. “I wonder how anyone can expect a single person with one income to come up with $3,000 a month plus utilities?”
“It’s my fault. I chose this profession,” she says. “I’m a musician, but I still do earn a living which is still for a lot of people a decent living.”
Nicole notes that it is the rare musician that can totally live off of music. Nicole pays the bills through teaching private lessons, directing choirs and having been music director at a church in West Vancouver, a job she just left.
“I’m lucky for that,” she says. “But again, it’s my fault. I didn’t choose to be a lawyer or something like that.”
Nicole does have some needs for her new home. As a musician, sometimes she needs to play piano for six hours at a time, plonking out simple accompaniments but that’s not every day. And then there’s the room for her instruments – her four guitars, three accordions, a hurdy-gurdy, a harpsichord and at least one piano. Which is why she’s looking for a place that offers some space and independence.
“What should a person like myself do in this current housing crisis?” She asks. “Forty-three, living on my own since I was 17, supporting myself modestly by working hard, diversifying my talents.”
“It just seems so retro-productive…in a sense for a professional just to go back to living in a basement and basically having to restrict myself,” she says. “That would mean no music. Like, give up everything.
“I’m not alone as many people and families have been forced to move away,” she notes. “And I’m very open minded person, [open to] out of the box ideas, but would not be an ideal roommate.
“It’s not just a crisis, that there’s nowhere to live. But it’s forcing people to redesign how they live totally. And that takes time.
“I don’t want to sound desperate. But it is kind of a desperate situation,” she says. “I mean, in reality, June 1 I’ll have to go somewhere.”