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Sparing displacement: Indigenous housing society buys Esquimalt apartment

The $5.3 million complex was purchased with part of B.C.’s rental protection fund
Lu’ma CEO, Dave Ward (Left) and housing minster, Ravi Kahlon (right) announcing the purchase of the 860 Carrie Street apartment. (Victoria News Staff)

With the assistance of the B.C. government to protect renters from displacement an Indigenous housing society announced on Feb. 28, it has purchased a $5.3 million 16-unit apartment building in Esquimalt.

Using $3 million from the rental protection fund, Lu’ma Native Housing’s newly obtained 860 Carrie St. complex will be housing prioritized for Indigenous tenants.

“Not only are we able to keep these homes protected long into the future, we’re able to protect the 16 families that live in these homes,” said Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon at the Esquimalt property.

The apartment was listed for sale and was at risk of redevelopment and potential tenant displacement, according to the province.

A year ago Black Press Media published an opinion piece on the sale of 860 Carrie St, stating, “this highly desirable apartment building is a superb opportunity for an investor to acquire a stable cash-flowing asset with below market financing.”

This column caught the attention of the provincial government, as they made direct reference to it during Wednesday’s event.

“The article said that if you were to have tenant turnover, you could actually make a lot of profit from this building and because of that article it’s exciting to be here today,” explained Kahlon.

The opinion piece did note that the province froze rent increases at two per cent so current renters would have avoided massive rent increases. However, tenants could have potentially gotten renovicted or displaced and new renters at the building were at risk for immense rent increases.

Now, that risk is gone.

“Our long-term goal is to ensure Indigenous people of Esquimalt are given an opportunity to be housed in a culturally appropriate space and to provide the same support services that Lu’ma provides to all its residents by filling the vacancies in this building with Indigenous tenants as the units become available,” said Lu’ma CEO, Dave Ward.

The society explained it will prioritize housing for Indigenous renters by using a rental application list where people will be evaluated through the typical recruitment of tenants for new and vacancies. To help with the evaluation Lu’ma stated it will also tap into the expertise of its tenants relations staff and will start occupying the units as they are made available.

Lu’ma will contribute payments for the complex through low-interest financing. Built in 1971, the building features four studios and 12 one-bedroom units. People living in the building will be able to stay there at the same rent. Lu’ma Native Housing will manage renovations to the roof, the building exterior and upgrades within three units. These renovations will prolong the building’s lifespan without disrupting tenancies.

The $500-million Rental Protection Fund is part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan, which includes addressing the crucial need for new Indigenous housing throughout B.C.

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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