Windows are boarded up in the Groutage Apartments, signalling the final days for 13 tenants to keep a roof over their heads.
Sadly, eight are now homeless and have no options in the immediate vicinity, other than pitching a tent somewhere or sleeping on the streets.
“There is no supportive housing in this community, at all,” Sheila Adcock, a front-line worker, told the Trail Times. “So we are trying to wrangle up some sleeping bags and tents because we have no housing. Our hands are tied.”
The Times was unable to connect with landowner, Paul Obal, for comment regarding future plans for the property.
Adcock says the only olive branch they can offer is to buy the displaced tenants a bus ticket to Nelson, in hopes they get a bed at Stepping Stones, the city’s year-round shelter.
Chances are that shelter is already running at capacity, however.
“And that is the only shelter that covers this area,” continued Adcock, coordinator at Career Development Services (CDS). “I am sure it’s full … maybe they can get emergency funding for extra beds, I don’t know.
“It’s very scary, the big city crisis has definitely hit here.”
This has been a few months coming as the landlord of Groutage Apartments did let tenants know the building would be shut down by the end of July, but only a few managed to find new living arrangements.
Adcock says the rental market in Greater Trail is very tight, so landlords can be choosy with tenants. The clients she works with generally live on a fixed income, either social assistance or disability, and they are vulnerable.
Many have significant challenges like ongoing mental health conditions, addictions, and/or physical barriers, so finding them safe and affordable housing is particularly difficult.
“It’s hard to find anybody housing right now,” she said. “At this point, when a landlord wants to rent an apartment they have 50 people in line to come and look at it. They are even stating in some of the advertisements that (prospective tenants) must have proof of employment, banking information and things like that,” Adcock emphasized.
“They are not looking at individuals on assistance or disability, they want professionals. And they can do that when 50 people are standing in line.”
So what is the answer?
“What is needed in this community is supportive housing,” she said. “It’s not just putting in another Groutage down the block. It’s housing, with full-time staff paid by BC Housing, so there are programs and services to support our most vulnerable population.”
The real estate branch of BC Housing is now looking at appropriate-sized properties to build supportive housing in the Trail area.
“They are committed to building 40 units, they just need to find the land,” she said. “It’s absolutely what’s needed … to support our most vulnerable population.”
BC Housing describes supportive housing as providing a range of on-site, non-clinical supports, such as life-skills training, and connections to primary health care, mental health or substance use services.