Family in Kitimat apartment building faces hard choices after eviction notice

Kitimat's housing crisis has gotten real for a number of renters in a Kitimat apartment building.

A renter and his family at 702 Kuldo Boulevard has until January 31 to move out.

But because rentals, especially affordable ones, are hard to come by, Grant Yeager said he and his partner and stepson will just have to move elsewhere to continue their lives.

“Post-eviction housing options have been pretty grim,” he wrote in an e-mailed interview with the Sentinel. “Most places have raised their rents far out of our price range, and whatever is left is either full, considering their own renovation options or just not pet-friendly.”

He added, “Currently my disabled significant other and stepson have no other choice but to plan to move to Duncan to stay with family and I will more than likely have to stay with my parents while I save up and hope for either a transfer or new opportunity in that area or elsewhere.”

He first moved to the Kuldo Apartments in 2007, but has lived in Kitimat off-and-on for 30 years. His family first moved here with him when he was one-year-old, and then he spent time in Kemano when he was five.

“As a Kemanoite I am no stranger to displacement though we were fortunate to move out a year or two before the town site was closed,” he said.

When he first moved back to Kitimat for good, he moved into a townhouse on Wedeene Street for about $400 a month, he said.

“Coming back from Victoria [and] Vancouver at rates of $575 for a one bedroom in the former and somewhere over $1,000 [in Vancouver] for a two bedroom, the lower rates were certainly welcoming.”

He said the affordable living in Kitimat has been a big reason why he continually moves back to town.

Two buildings of the Kuldo Apartments complex are slated for renovations, which gives a landlord the ability to evict residents.

The Sentinel did call Kiticorp, property managers for the apartments on Kuldo, when we first heard about possible evictions but the person who answered the phone did not wish to discuss eviction issues.

Yeager says that since the eviction notices they have been given relocation offers to other places in Kitimat but they’ve been quoted rents of up to $1,200 a month, way higher than what his family pays now.

Working to support people in position’s like Yeager is Anne Moyls, who is a housing resource worker for the Kitimat Housing resource Project.

Moyls said she’s been working non-stop with people needing help through Kitimat’s housing crisis.

“How many buildings do we have in the community? That’s the real limitation,” she said.

That said, she does feel confident that arrangements can be made for the people in the two apartment buildings on Kuldo which are being renovated.

“For this immediate sweep, I’m quite confident that these folks will be okay based on what I know so far.”

But there’s still a long term problem to handle.

“Even if we’re able to find solutions for the folks this time, there’s still two more buildings to go of their complex, and there’s still the Hillcrest apartments.”

She said people in the Hillcrest Apartments tell her they expect eviction notices in the near future as that apartment complex undergoes renovations.

And it’s not like people can move nearby, to Terrace or Prince Rupert to ride out the housing crunch.

“So far there’s no new apartments being built and there’s nowhere in Terrace, there’s nowhere in Prince Rupert, the whole region is flooded right now.”

What she’s seeing is a lot of people are moving into their family’s homes, crowding large families into smaller places, which understandably can cause stress.

“I think that people even now, if they even can leave…they would. But many people, their roots are here.”

She said there were a number of people who left town in September when the roads and weather were still good.

Back to Yeager, he’d be happy to see public protests about housing but knows weather at this time of year may make chances of that slim. But he’d also like to see flyer campaigns to raise awareness about housing issues.

As for what solutions there could be from his perspective, he said apart from building more housing, council should step in, possibly by creating conditions for zoning permits that certain percentages of apartment buildings must be low income units, or having companies add a stipend to their per diems for employees, to go into a fund to help provide low income housing.

“Something must be done soon however, otherwise our burgeoning new mall space with all of its new businesses will slow to a crawl as more and more of the service workers who populate its shops are forced to look abroad for something as simple as a roof over their heads.”