By David F. Rooney
The Community Housing Society is preparing to apply for a major grant from the Columbia Basin Trust that could — if it can acquire the land for free or at an ultra-cheap price from the City — allow it to build seven new homes along Oscar Street.
The CBT has $10 million dollars it wants to use to support five major housing projects across the Basin.
“They’re looking for five projects,” said Society Chairman Mark McKee. “We should apply.”
He said he believed the CBT would like to back a well-considered housing project in Revelstoke.
The society is looking at seven new homes, most of them in the 700-900-square-foot range along Oscar Street near Humbert.
The society has not built anything since it constructed a duplex on the City-owned Bridge Creek Properties two years ago.
Society members recognize that the open market has forced housing prices down since 2008 and don’t want to do anything that would interfere with the price of ownership properties.
However, they said rental accommodations continue to be very high-priced.
A report to the society by Social Development Coordinator Jill Zacharias during the AGM noted that rental rates have increased by between 52 and 150 per cent since 2006, depending upon what you are looking for. According to the 2006 and 2011 CMHC Rental Market Survey data foir Revelstoke, six years ago a bachelor apartment would have set you back about $364 a month; last year it cost $617, an increase of 69.5 per cent. A one bedroom that cost about $441 in 2006 last year cost $669, a 52 per cent increase. A two-bedroom apartment in 2006 would have cost about $529 but $867 in 2011. That’s a hike of 64 per cent. And a three-bedroom unit that cost $592 in 2006 cost between $1,000 and $1,500 in 2011, an increase of between 80 per cent and 150 per cent. Please click here to read Jill’s full report.
What’s more, a lot of working families in Revelstoke are increasingly hard-pressed to pay their rent, Zacharias said.
The BC Housing Rental Assistance Program currently assists eight households in Revelstoke, but she said there are more families than that who need serious assistance.
There is also a dearth of a social housing units in Revelstoke, the report said.
“I do believe we should proceed and ask the City to give us the land,” Councillor Tony Scarcella said at the society’s AGM on Monday.