Campbell River to continue housing tenants of burned apartment building
VICTORIA -- The City of Campbell River says that it will continue to pay for temporary accommodations until the end of April for the tenants of an apartment building that suffered a serious fire earlier this month.
The municipality says that city council voted unanimously to provide up to $15,600 for food and lodging of the more than 85 tenants who lost their homes and belongings in the fire on April 8.
“We appreciate the strong leadership mayor and council are showing, especially because the pandemic has made everything more complicated in an extremely tight rental market,” said Kristi Schwanicke, coordinator of the Coalition to End Homelessness.
“With the second lowest rental vacancy rate in the province in 2019, finding accommodation in Campbell River has been much harder in recent years. Then you add a pandemic and things get extraordinarily complex in terms of replacing documents, accessing technology and viewing available rentals,” she said.
While the city has offered to continue housing the dozens of displaced tenants, Campbell River is reaching out to local partners and the B.C. government to help pay for extended accommodations until the end of May.
Last week, many tenants of the damaged building told CTV News that local landlords were not willing to rent to them due to the building’s low-income reputation.
One tenant, Rod Creelman, said that he had secured a new rental. But, once the landlord discovered that Creelman had been living in the low-income building, he was turned down.
“I talked with his wife and she was a go but then her husband called me back the next day," Creelman told CTV News on April 15.
"As soon as he heard I was from that building he said, 'I'm sorry, this isn't going to work.' Click."
Creelman believes that potential landlords are grouping tenants of the apartment together, as some residents were “high-risk” before the fire.
Meanwhile, Campbell River says that many residents of the building identify as Indigenous and “face increased barriers to accessing housing.”
“Without an appropriate place to live, many of the residents may be at risk of homelessness,” said the city in a statement.
Out of the 86 tenants of the building, Campbell River says that at least 10 have found new longer-term accommodations.
“We are extremely grateful to all the organizations and community members generously working together,” said Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams.
“These are families, seniors, children, who have lost their home and belongings due to the fire and urgently need somewhere to live so they can rebuild their lives.”