Four of 17 low-income units available at BC Housing’s newly-opened Douglas Place complex remain unoccupied, indicates information received from the provincial housing agency.
And they could very well go to people now living elsewhere who have listed Kitimat as a preferred location in which to live.
“When looking to fill these vacancies, staff refer to B.C. Housing’s Housing Registry for people who have listed Kitimat and/or Douglas Place as a location preference,” an agency statement adds.
“B.C. Housing does not look to other communities to fill these vacancies. However, people currently living in other communities may apply for housing in Kitimat.”
As of last week, 20 households have listed Kitimat as a location preference through B.C. Housing’s housing registry, with 10 in Kitimat and 10 from other communities in B.C.
“While B.C. Housing encourages applicants to select multiple locations that may serve their needs, the applicants lead the process in terms of identifying their preferred location. The selection of preferred locations/buildings is ultimately up to the applicant,” states B.C. Housing.
The former City Centre Motel was purchased by B.C. Housing to fill a housing gap in Kitimat in late 2015 after being put on the market for a list price of $2.95 million. The agency then spent more than $400,000 on renovations leading up to the opening in August.
In addition to its 17 low-income units, four are assigned to Tamitik Status of Women for its own low-income housing service, two rooms with two beds each are set aside for the seasonal extreme weather shelter and one unit is for B.C. Housing’s on-site manager.
Douglas Place is geared for residents paying rent calculated at 30 per cent of their monthly income whether it be from social assistance, pensions or other sources.
“This rent may or may not be below the social assistance rents, but it is below market rent,” states the agency.
The four extreme weather shelter beds available this year is less than in past winter seasons but that’s because demand was less than anticipated.
The shelter beds at Douglas Place represent the first permanent home for the service.
In past years, the fire hall and a church basement have been used.
The agency said the shelter is operated by the Kitimat Community Development Centre Society and opens when an extreme weather alert is issued.
There’s no set budget and operators are reimbursed based on expenses submitted to B.C. Housing.
B.C. Housing has an overall budget of $2 million for its extreme weather shelter program and reimburses service providers based on submitted claims. If there are extended periods of bad weather the province covers additional costs.