IN NELSON FINDING AFFORDABLE, DECENT HOUSING IS A REAL CHALLENGE.
Nelson is full of beautiful houses and buildings, but finding an affordable, decent home can be challenging. For people working in minimum wage jobs, retirees on fixed rate incomes, single parent families and those on income assistance or disability benefits, it can be especially hard.
The overall vacancy rate in Nelson last year was the worst in the province, with just 0.6% of properties available for rent. In addition, rental rates have risen dramatically over the past few years due to the high demand for housing, taking secure and affordable housing out of reach for many people within our community.
A number of not-for-profit societies have been working hard to offer affordable and supportive housing options in the city, with over 320 permanent units currently available. However, it’s estimated a further 200 units are needed to meet demand.
Ward Street Place is an affordable housing unit operated by Nelson CARES. However, the building is 100 years old, and in need of major upgrades and renovations to continue providing stable and affordable housing to current and future tenants. As well as electrical and fire safety upgrades, installing energy efficient windows and doors, the aim is create 11 new affordable rooms and refurbish all the existing rooms to provide dignified and comfortable accommodation. The program also includes a maintenance budget that will ensure these units are available for the next fifty years.
The total costs of the project is almost $3 million, and through a lot of hard work, over 75% of this has been secured. Ward Street Place is vital to the continued provision of quality and affordable housing in Nelson, and the organisation is asking for community support to help raise the final $690,000. Read more here
Medicine Hat is one of 7 Albertan cities that has chosen to adopt a ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness. This approach commits to finding people a home within 10 days of finding out they’re homeless, taking the emphasis away from providing temporary shelter and instead prioritising finding people a house. The project removes stipulations (like remaining sober) that are present in many housing programs.
The project has proved a huge success so far, with 672 people being brought out of homelessness in the last 5 years, and 72% of people maintained their housing through the scheme.
The Ministry of Human Services, also says the program makes financial sense. Providing support for chronically homeless people (including health, emergency and justice services relating to their homelessness) can cost in excess of $100,000 a year, where as the Housing First program costs under $35,000. Read more here