- From the April 11 Northern Sentinel.

- From the April 11 Northern Sentinel.

Report addresses housing needs for Kitimat

Kitimat’s new Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment calls out an immediate need for 217 units of affordable rental or supportive housing.

Kitimat’s new Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment calls out an immediate need for 217 units of affordable rental or supportive housing units in Kitimat.

That’s one of many bits of knowledge contained in the report, released on Mar. 23.

The report is the result of the Kitimat Housing Committee, which was formed to identify and address housing needs in the community, according to the report’s executive summary.

“The information provided in this document will help Kitimat move forward with a plan to address key community housing needs,” the report stated.

Those needs includes the conclusion that affordability of housing in the community is “gradually eroding” for low-income renters.

As well the housing stock available is “no longer suitable for the aging population.”

Some rental properties that are available have fallen into disrepair, the report states, due to periods of high vacancy and high unemployment, a result of population loss and industrial plant closures.

The report includes some suggestions, such as developing working relationships between industry and social housing agencies to develop “innovative ideas for social housing development projects,” and creating a housing strategy and action plan that would include other recommendations in the report.

The complete report is available on the District of Kitimat’s website at kitimat.ca.

According to Margaret Warcup, with the Kitimat Housing Committee, this report means that the community is well-positioned to benefit from potential grants to improve housing from the government.

“We want, as a community, to have all the resources. We have very few subsidized housing in terms of supportive housing,” said Warcup. “Compared to other communities we’re really weak.”

The committee was able to hire Terra Housing Consultants to prepare for the report with a $10,000 grant.

Moving ahead, Warcup suggests thinking outside of the box will help the town achieve its housing needs.

“In Nanaimo, an assisted living complex, was built entirely from trailers from the Olympics,” she said. “You wouldn’t have known they were those modular units.”

On the subject of housing, Warcup does point out that Kitimat is not immune from issues of homelessness.

“People will say to me ‘well, we don’t have any people without housing,’ but we know that we have people that are couch surfing,” she said. “We do have people who don’t have homes.”

She suggests a winter shelter is another housing gap that should be investigated for Kitimat. She is aware of service groups in town giving bus fare to get people to shelters in Terrace.

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