VICTORIA -- The B.C. government and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Port Alberni have purchased an apartment building that offers affordable rent to more than 40 people in the region.

The province and CMHA Port Alberni have purchased the King George Apartments complex located at 3131 5th Ave., which ensures that tenants there can continue to rent their homes at below market rates.

The B.C. government says that rent at the building ranges from $500 to $633 per month. CMHA Port Alberni previously leased the building for nine years, but this year the building went up for sale, which may have resulted in rent changes if it were purchased by a new owner.

"With this affordable housing building for sale, there was a real chance that whoever purchased it would redevelop the site or raise rents significantly," said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing in a statement Friday.

"By purchasing this building, we are making sure that people in the community continue to have rental homes they can afford," he said.

The building was purchased for $4.8 million, plus roughly $64,600 in related fees, by CMHA Port Alberni. The province provided the mental health association with a $3 million grant, and low-interest financing of $1.86 million, to help buy the apartment building.

"Considering the current, critical housing shortage in Port Alberni, we are relieved to be able to secure these below-market rentals for the future," said Katrina Kiefer, executive director of CMHA Port Alberni on Friday.

"We are grateful for the past generosity of the building owner and the provincial government, through BC Housing, for its forward-thinking actions that made this housing possible," she said.