VIDEO: Derelict home demolished for social housing in Campbell River

Workers demolished a boarded-up house on Fir Street on Friday to make room for a new affordable housing project. Screengrab from video by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

The bucket of a backhoe smashed into the roof of a boarded-up house near downtown Campbell River on Friday, as workers prepared the Fir Street site for a new social housing project.

It’s been a long time coming, says Valery Puetz, executive director of the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society (CRNITS).

“Housing supply is extremely short, especially low-cost housing, and it’s getting worse,” she said. “The available options get smaller every week.”

The lack of affordable housing hits women especially hard, she said. Many stay in abusive relationships because they might not be able to find housing if they leave.

The housing crisis also creates barriers for the reunification of women with kids in the child protection system.

“They need to have appropriate housing for that, and if they can’t find it, they often can’t have their children back.”

By April 2018, Indigenous children accounted for 63 per cent of those in the care of the provincial Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Details about the facility haven’t been confirmed, but plans call for a four-storey building with a mix of studios and 1-3 bedroom units across three Fir Street properties.

The units will be geared towards women with low or medium incomes and their families. The B.C. government is providing $4.7 million for the 40-unit facility, which will be operated by CRNITS. The group provides support to women fleeing from violence.

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Two derelict houses at 1134 and 1162 Fir St., both owned by BC Housing, are being torn down to make room for the project. A third property, the site of a former chiropractor’s office at 1180 Fir St., is owned by the city.

Elle Brovold, corporate officer for the City of Campbell River, said there had been no formal request from BC Housing for the property by Friday, although some discussions had taken place.

Puetz stressed the urgency of getting construction started as soon as possible.

“We need to get this housing moving quickly,” she said.

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