81 people still looking for homes after Campbell River apartment fire

81 people still looking for homes after Campbell River apartment fire
WatchThe blaze destroyed most of a 9th street apartment building April 8, displacing 92 people.

Wallace Henschel and his four children were burned out of their Campbell River apartment on April 8. They were among 92 people who were left homeless that day.

His three daughters have found new accommodation, but he and his young son are still searching.

“I haven’t been able to find anything,” said Henschel. “The rent is way too high and I have a dog I’ve had for 11 years. If I have to, I’ll move back to Manitoba.”

He used to pay $836.00 a month and says he’s now looking at $1,300 to $1,400 a month which he can’t afford, even if he could find a place.

At 0.4%, Campbell River has the lowest vacancy rate on Vancouver Island and the second-lowest in B.C.

Emergency Social Services and the City of Campbell River have extended emergency support allowing displaced residents to stay at a downtown Campbell River hotel until the end of April and maybe longer.

Eleven people have found a new place so far.

“COVID-19 just complicates the matter because of course there’s a ban on evictions so any housing that would be coming up is not and people are reluctant to do showings due to transmitting the virus,” said Kristi Schwanicke, Coordinator with the Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness.

In years past, the address at 9th Street and Dogwood Avenue, the location of the fire, had a poor reputation due to some tenants and crime. Now some of the displaced people say prospective landlords are discriminating against them because of it.

“Actually we are, we’re running into people like that. I don’t know why they’re doing it but it is the building and the building is a building, not the people,” said Henschel.

“It’s discrimination pretty much,” added Simms.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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