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Searching for a family home

The Openshaw family, from right, Kane, Shane, Zane Ragseale, Vance, Allison, Khan and Addie stand in front of the house they rent. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — For families, finding rentals with two to three bedrooms in this community is difficult.

Addie Openshaw and her family moved back to Saranac Lake from California to be closer to family in 2018. She said they came from a small town on the West Coast that is “much more remote” than Saranac Lake. Here, they found opportunities — better-paying jobs, education and recreation.

Their family has grown over the past three years. They adopted a family member and now have four children, all in middle and high school, plus a German shepard.

In September, Openshaw got a call from her landlord telling her she’d need to find a new place because he was turning their house into a short-term vacation rental.

“It was really abrupt. I didn’t see it coming,” she said.

Openshaw asked to stay through the winter because finding a suitable place to live was tough and moving in the snow would be difficult.

Both upstairs apartments in their building are now vacation rentals. Openshaw said while those tenants stopped paying rent, her family has kept paying. Her husband, daughter and herself all work at Nori’s Village Market.

Now it’s summer. They still haven’t found anything. Openshaw said there’s nowhere to go for a family their size. They need a two- or three-bedroom apartment with a yard for their dog.

All available apartments are either small, don’t allow pets or are unaffordable, she said. Openshaw and her husband are building their credit in the hope of buying a house and getting out of the struggle of needing to rent.

Meanwhile, she said her landlord has been bugging them to leave.

“If he wants to get rid of us, he’s going to have to do it the right way,” Openshaw said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know enough about their own rights as well.”

Jodi Carman, formerly of Saranac Lake, started looking for housing immediately after her landlord told her they were putting her house on the market. She knew it would be difficult. She had seen others try, and she had a child and two dogs to find room for.

“Buying isn’t quite an option yet, and I know this area is awful for rentals but just putting out some feelers,” she wrote in a Facebook housing page. “I know, ‘Good luck in this area,’ but I guess we’ll see. So much is unknown right now, and it’s scary.”

Carman eventually found a place last month … in Plattsburgh.

“It was posted for 2 hours, had 47 inquiries on it and 7 scheduled showings,” Carman wrote in a Facebook message. “This is how bad the situation is. … I sent him money without even seeing it.”

Carman said it was stressful and scary moving into a new school district for her daughter, but she is closer to work now so it was a “blessing in disguise.”

She also lays the blame for the housing shortage on short-term rentals.

“It’s honestly so disheartening,” she wrote on Facebook. “This area is so beautiful and we are so in love but as a family of 3 plus 2 dogs? It doesn’t have a bright future.”

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