WATCH: Nearly 60 people are scrambling to find new, affordable accommodation after fire ravaged the Traveller’s Inn housing complex in Victoria and many of them have been left to sleep in homeless shelters
Chass Duff returned to the Traveller’s Inn housing complex Tuesday morning to see if he could get some important personal belongings from his unit inside.
The building was heavily damaged by fire early Monday morning, displacing all 57 tenants.
Duff said the City of Victoria’s Emergency Management officials in charge of feeding and housing them in the aftermath of the blaze were disorganized and he and the others didn’t find out where they were going until late at night.
He was one of the lucky ones to get into a motel.
“They got us put up until tomorrow night and we don’t know where we’re going to go from there,” said Duff.
Mike Moran wasn’t as fortunate — he slept on a floor at a homeless shelter.
And he said he woke up Tuesday morning with no money or vouchers for food.
“I’m not used to this, I’ve never been floating around looking for breakfast,” said Moran who has lived at the Traveller’s Inn for six years.
More than 20 of the 57 displaced residents slept in shelters, including one Our Place put together at the last minute.
“Most of the hotels were running at capacity so we were kind of called last minute when they were in a crisis and just needed a place for people to be for the night,” said Our Place executive director Don Evans.
The head of Victoria’s Emergency Management program said with a large convention in town there simply wasn’t any vacancy at hotels.
“Our volunteers and our staff they’re outstanding people and they’ve done a heck of a job in my opinion of dealing with a very challenging situation,” said Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce.
A spokesperson for Emergency Management B.C., the provincial body that provides funding for disaster relief, said hotel rooms are not the expectation and that mass lodging at schools or churches is normal.
An insurance adjuster at the scene of the fire Tuesday estimated it could be six months or more before people could live in the building again.
In a city already facing an affordable housing crisis, it’s unclear where everyone will go once emergency social services funding runs out.
“I hope to god they don’t end up in tent city because that would be really unfair, I really hope that doesn’t happen,” said Duff, who is hoping to buy a travel trailer to live in.
Our Place and the Salvation Army plan to open emergency shelters for residents again Tuesday night.
Investigators now say the fire at the Traveller’s Inn housing complex was deliberately set.
Building owner Robin Kimpton wouldn’t return calls for comment.