Affordable housing on the horizon

Some of Greater Trail's low income renters will soon have the chance to live in affordable suites.

Some of Greater Trail’s low income renters will soon have the chance to live in affordable suites.

The Lower Columbia Community Development Team’s attainable housing committee is now preparing to purchase up to 10 units in Trail, Fruitvale and probably Rossland after securing nearly $1 million last year.

Although it’s been a rather slow process, attainable housing committee chair Jan Morton said the group has finally been given the green light to proceed with the acquisition phase.

“We’ve had a broad sense of who we are going to be targeting but once you get down to it it, really, nine or 10 units is going to be a drop in the bucket in terms of need so we better have our criteria pretty tight,” she said.

The group is currently developing eligibility policies while they work to secure a real estate team to guide them through the purchasing process.

“We intend to be staged about it as well because we don’t want to be suddenly inflating the market so our intent is to be careful while we do it but also have the guidance of experts supporting us,” she added.

The units they wish to develop will likely be one-bedroom (at approximately $450 per month) or at the very most two-bedroom suites in existing strata-title units or in downtown buildings that feature apartments upstairs.

Morton said someone who fits the “homelessness category” pays at least $500- $700 a month, which works out to 60-70 per cent of all income spent on rent. The group would like to lower this dramatically to 30 per cent, providing ease to low-income individuals.

“There is no doubt that the people who will be fortunate enough to get into this housing will have safe housing that is more affordable than the market out there,” she said.

After an extensive needs assessment and a closer look at specific households and housing needs, the committee’s push turned into action when its second application was accepted by the Affordable Rental Housing initiative, a partnership between the Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing.

The partners granted the committee $925,000 for this project and funds were topped up with $25,000 from Kootenay Savings Credit Union and $10,000 from Teck Metals.