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Sale marks climb in subsidized housing
The provincial crown agency responsible for subsidized housing has purchased an apartment building in downtown Terrace.
The Mountainview Apartments located at 4501 Greig Ave. switched hands over the course of this summer, purchased by BC Housing for $590,000.
While current tenants in the 11 one-bedroom-unit building will not be evicted, as units become empty the plan is to move in people considered hard to house.
BC Housing is working on an agreement with the Ksan House Society, a local social services agency, to handle that function.
“It’s not a case of people just putting in applications, it’s a case of who needs it the most,” said Ksan executive director Carol Sabo, adding there will be a committee made up of several social service sector representatives to determine who can move into a unit.
Tenants now pay between $500 and $650 a month in rent but ones being moved in under the hard to house program will pay based on what they can afford, she said.
BC Housing officials said they bought the building to preserve affordable housing in Terrace.
Sabo said the challenge facing Ksan is managing and maintaining the building without revenue over and above what will be collected in rent.
To keep rents reasonable, she said money will be saved by putting cameras in the halls instead of having a caretaker live in the building and have monthly preventative maintenance walkthroughs to avoid more costly repair bills.
The building will be used as somewhat of a stepping stone for clients currently living in apartments at Ksan’s homeless shelter on Hall St. among others.
Those units are considered temporary housing while tenants acquire skills leading to more independent living, said Sabo.
“The apartments we had there were never intended to be forever, but there’s never been anywhere for these people to go,” said Sabo. “We see [the new apartments] as another step in the continuum.”
Homelessness outreach coordinator with the Terrace and District Community Social Services Society Casey Eys agrees there is a big need for more subsidized housing in Terrace.
“Young single people that are on basic income assistance really have nowhere to go,” said Eys. Total income assistance for a single person is $610 per month, said Eys, which compared to the price of an average bachelor apartment in Terrace leaves $60 monthly for other expenses like heat, hydro, phone, food and transportation.
“You’re hard pressed to find any kind of accommodations for less than that,” said Eys.
Terrace’s local housing committee is looking at the future picture of the city’s rental housing stock and current trends point to more than just affordable housing needed in Terrace according to chair Keith Goodwin.
“There is no doubt there is a strong demand and increasing demand for affordable housing in Terrace.,” said Goodwin. “Since the Skeena Kalum was built, there was really nothing built of a significant size to address affordable housing.”
Currently, the committee is creating a housing report near the year’s end for submission to the city, but in the meantime Goodwin said the availability of rental accommodations has been getting tighter.
“With an increasing number of people coming to town … that’s putting pressure on the the whole housing stock and partcularly rental stock and its driving up rents and lowering vacancy rates.”