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Calgary senior forced out of longtime home following rising interest rates

A Calgary senior said he’s been forced out of his home of more than 30 years after rising interest rates lead to an “unaffordable” mortgage payment.

“I was paying something like $1,100 a month,” he told Global News. “Now with the increase in the interest rates I’m paying $2,600 a month.”

Not able to come up with the extra money, the 76-year-old said he had no choice but to sell his character home in the community of West Hillhurst.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “This is a home that I’ve really enjoyed being in and it’s not just the home itself, it’s the street. Everybody is just like one happy family.”

But Cufflin’s struggles didn’t end there. After selling his home, the U.K. native then struggled to find a place to rent.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary rental rate hikes reach record levels in September'

Calgary rental rate hikes reach record levels in September

Calgary’s low vacancy rate has greatly reduced any available rentals and caused prices to spike. The senior, who had to be out by Tuesday at noon, finally found a temporary place through a “friend of a friend” Monday night.

“I was just wondering what I would do,” he said with a sigh of relief.

While Cufflin was resigned to the move, neighbours and friends were angry.

John standing outside of longtime home. Tomasia DaSilva

“It’s just not fair,” JJ Jain told Global News. “He had no choice but to leave.”

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Jain, who has lived on the same street as Cufflin since 2009, said his neighbour faced some tough times these past couple of years and eventually ran out of money to keep going. He said the bank then decided to foreclose on the property.

Jain believed his friend was forced into a corner and eventually left with nothing.

“Even after selling his house, he has no money left because between the bank, the taxes at the city and the federal taxes, everything went,” he pointed out.

“He owed the city the land taxes, he owed the federal government – they don’t forgive you. They want their money.”

Neighbours step forward to help

Cufflin may be leaving the neighbourhood, but his neighbours aren’t leaving him. Over the past week, they’ve been gathering at his soon-to-be former home, helping him clean it out.

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“As soon as John’s story got around, we had 12-to-14 people one day helping,” Jain said. “Like little kids, families. It was through the whole neighbourhood’s support John was able to do this.”

They’ve now set up a fundraising campaign to help him through the next transition. Jain believed his friend is not unique in having to go through similar circumstances.

“I think this is just the start,” Jain said. “Just like John, he made do as long as he could. But, you know, there’s that tipping point.”

Economic headwinds coming in

It’s a tipping point many Canadians have already reached, according to some economists.

The high cost of living and the measures aimed at bringing those costs down have impacted Canadians and businesses alike.

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And Calgary isn’t immune according to Calgary Economic Development (CED).

“We’re probably going to see a few headwinds coming at us in 2024,” CED president and CEO Brad Parry told Global News.

Parry said Calgary is already seeing a couple of signals pointing to “tighter” conditions.

“We’re seeing a little bit of pullback on some stuff,” he said. “We’re seeing decisions being thought through and maybe businesses taking a little bit of extra pause to make that call.”

Parry added Calgary is in a better position to weather those challenges.

“I think there’s some opportunity. I still think you’re seeing some migration come in because there are jobs available in our city, so I think you’re still seeing the employment and growth happening,” he said.

“So I think there could be some cautious optimism out there for us.”

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