Under the umbrella of Arrow & Slocan Lakes Community Services [ASLCS] and the Columbia Basin Trust [CBT], BC Housing will build ten of the allotted 167 new affordable housing units for people in the region struggling to find housing they can afford. Nakusp is getting a mixed facility; the units will be available to a wide range of tenants and not for one population of residents.
“It’s clear that we need a new approach to help Kootenay residents,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust. “I’m thrilled that our partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust is delivering on our goal for fair and affordable housing. These investments will make real, positive impacts on people’s lives.”
The projects will be funded by the Columbia Basin Investment in Affordable Housing agreement, announced in December 2017 between the province and the Trust.
“People living in the Columbia Basin, like the rest of the province, are feeling the weight of the lack of available, affordable housing,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our government recognizes the urgent need to create more options for people struggling to find reasonably priced rental homes. These new projects will help make life more affordable for families in the region by delivering the housing they need and can afford.”
Ground breaking is still a ways off, and timing hasn’t been divulged as of yet. Executive Director, Arrow & Slocan Lakes Community Services Tim Payne said, “We had put in this proposal quite some time ago, and we have been accepted to move forward with the next steps. We will be moving forward with BC Housing and find out the intricacies of their plan, and how they would like to see it play out.”
Payne says it’s a waiting game to find out what BC Housing’s plans are and when things are set to move to the next step. The prospect of adding more housing to the available rentals in Nakusp has been in the works for a long time, Payne explained, “Even before my time and so it’s finally come together.”
The building is likely to be divided into affordable housing for low to moderate income tenants and market value, for those professionals and families who can afford to pay the going rate but are limited on options because of the extremely low vacancy rate. Payne said, “We have wanted to hire people and couldn’t because they didn’t have anywhere to live. Our office has become a bit of a hub for people inquiring about where to live and where they can find places. This is something that we are really familiar with.”
The village has agreed to move forward with providing property for purchase.
Mayor Karen Hamling offered an enthusiastic response, “I am really excited about this. I think it’s long overdue. Housing is something that this community desperately needs. One of the things that happens, lots of times people from outside [of Nakusp] are offered a job they don’t have anywhere to live. [The addition of new rental units] is a great thing.”
Ten new housing projects in the Columbia Basin region will increase the availability of affordable rental homes for individuals, families, seniors or those with disabilities, who are earning a low to moderate income. The following projects have been selected to receive funding, based on the impact the project will have in reducing the community’s affordable rental housing need:
Castlegar: 11 units, operated by Kootenay Society for Community Living
Nakusp: 10 units, operated by Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services
Nelson: 42 units, 3 operated by Nelson CARES and 39 by Share Housing Initiative Society
Rossland: 24 units, initiated by the City of Rossland, proposed to be operated by Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society
Revelstoke: 21 units, operated by Revelstoke Community Housing Society
Slocan: 4 units, operated by Slocan Valley Seniors’ Housing Society
“We know that housing is essential for healthy and resilient communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “Our priority is to help ensure residents have access to housing that meets their needs as they vary by community, across the basin.”