Tenants displaced by Campbell River fire say landlords won't rent to them
CAMPBELL RIVER -- Tenants displaced by last week's apartment fire in Campbell River say they are feeling victimized once again, with many saying landlords won't rent to them because they lived in the building.
Rod Creelman says he was able to secure a new rental, but once it was discovered he had resided in the low-income building, the landlord turned him down.
"I talked with his wife and she was a go but then her husband called me back the next day," Creelman says. "As soon as he heard I was from that building he said, 'I'm sorry, this isn't going to work.' Click."
Creelman moved into the building at the corner of Dogwood Street and Ninth Avenue after his mother died and because he had a dog. He says potential landlords are grouping tenants from the apartment complex as being high-risk even though great efforts had been undertaken recently to improve the quality of renters there.
"We were cleaning the building up and it was 99.9 per cent clean," he says. "I judge the person, not the building. There's some of us that are hard-working and have jobs, like myself for nine years."
Maureen Hamilton says former tenants, especially Indigenous people, are being discriminated against and she herself is having problems finding a new home because of her disability following an illness.
"It's about people understanding that we've been through a major tragedy and that we are human and if they're willing to give us a chance they might just see how respectful and responsible we are and how much integrity many of us have," Hamilton says.
There has been some good news for tenants, however. They have been given a one-week extension for their stay at the Coast Discovery Inn Hotel and donations continue to roll in.
Diane Palmer has volunteered to coordinate donations and says contributions have been strong.
"The entire North Island has been hugely supportive," Palmer says. "They've all stepped up amazingly, as we knew they would in such a situation. But we are just really thrilled with the support."
She says immediate needs have been met for diapers and clothing, but says more is needed to help the 86 tenants preparing to transition to where they'll be living next.
"There's a need for backpacks, there's a need for luggage, bags, things that they can carry them in as well as possibly totes that they can keep their belongings in," she says.
She says gift cards and cellphones are in high demand right now.
Palmer encourages individuals looking to contribute to follow their "Support Fire Evacuees" Facebook group to find out the best way to help.