Kamloops residents left stranded as rented houses are slated for demolition
Homes slated for demolition in Kamloops are leaving current renters scrambling to find more housing, with less than a month to go before heat and water are cut off.
Kelson Group purchased three acres of land in the 400-block of Nicola Street and the 500-block of Battle Street to use for its City Gardens development, a multimillion dollar housing project. In total, 20 homes on those streets will be removed in time for the project to get underway the beginning of 2022.
Resident Jennifer Adams has been renting one of those homes for more than five years. She said she is trying to help others in her neighbourhood facing the eviction on Oct. 2.
“There are precious few places for rent in Kamloops,” she said. “There are at least seven neighbours who are still trying to find somewhere to live. The rental vacancy is super low, so there has not been much movement."
Adams said she is particularly concerned about her neighbour named Bernie, an 81-year-old man who has been renting his home on Nicola Street for thirty three years and has a dog.
“Bernie is having a heck of a time finding housing,” she said. “A one bedroom suite that allows pets is like hens’ teeth and renting for double or more what he can pay. He currently pays around $750 dollars per month. He is a sweet and wonderful gent who is stressed to the max and now is facing homelessness. He such a great old guy and I'm helping because he doesn't have a computer. We have lined up some paperwork to apply for subsidy. He may have to go to a motel, which isn't ideal."
With rental vacancy rates lingering below 2% in Kamloops and the Okanagan for many years, Kamloops has the lowest at 1.3%, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data from September 2019.
Adams is trying to find a place to rent for herself and children and she said she feels stranded.
"Most of us will be downsizing and paying double our rent," she said. "I will be sleeping in the living room. It has been stressful for all of us and the timing is bad with students pouring in competing for what few rentals we have. I don't know how people are going to do it. It seems not much thought or care has been given to those of us trying to deal with this situation."
Adams described the loss of the neighbourhood as sad.
"You walk down the street at night and the houses are all dark, it has a foreboding feeling."
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