Fairfield Hotel shutting down: dozens of at-risk tenants facing eviction from Victoria affordable housing

Fairfield Hotel shutting down: dozens of at-risk tenants facing eviction from Victoria affordable housing
WatchOne of the few affordable housing options in the city of Victoria is set to close its doors. The Fairfield Hotel houses dozens, earning little or no income. As Kori Sidaway tells us, many say the loss in housing is a huge step backward.

Jon Sigurdson has lived in affordable housing at Fairfield Hotel in Victoria for three years now.

“It has become home,” said Sigurdson.

He’s one of over 50 in the building, who either live on social assistance or low income. But as of August, it will be home no more.

“Reliance Properties and Pacifica Housing has arrived in an agreement in principle to work on relocating the tenants,” said Jen Boulton-Stehle, Director of Property Services with Pacifica Housing, who manages the property.

“Over the year we’ve noticed that this is not necessarily the most conducive building for the needs of the tenants, we have people that are aging, unique medical needs, and Pacifica Housing wants to make sure each person has the right home for their unique needs.”

As of August 2020, all the at-risk tenants will be evicted.

And with their future uncertain, many residents are frightened.

“I’m nervous as all hell,” said Ted Hawrylu who lives on a fixed income through disability.

“We have a vacancy rate of .0020 or something. Nothing is available. But if it is available, it’s going to cost me half of my income.”

Pacifica Housing is working with organizations like Together Against Poverty Society, and BC Housing to rehome the dozens of residents who rely on the affordable housing.

But advocates say regardless, losing the housing would be a disaster.

“I this is potentially a huge step backward for housing justice in our community,” said Emily Rogers, a legal advocate with Together Against Poverty Society.

Back in 2017, Pacifica Housing was given a $250,000 grant from the city of Victoria to help run Fairfield Hotel for a five-year term, until 2022.

So news that the non-profit wants to back out of the deal, comes to some city councillors as a big disappointment.

“I don’t think we can afford to take one step back every time we take a step forward. We can’t afford to lose these homes,” said Victoria Councillor Jeremy Loveday.

Pacifica Housing can’t guarantee they’ll find homes for all residents at the Fairfield Plaza but say they are hopeful. They also plan to negotiate with city hall in the upcoming weeks to keep the $250,000 grant they received from city to run the property.

“Our intentions are to continue business as usual. We’re still doing housing here. We’re still injecting a very enriched service to each of our tenants in The Fairfield. We’re still doing housing, so that will be a discussion with the city,” said Boulton-Stehle.

But some city councillors say it will be a hard sell.

“I have no interest in renegotiating this contract,” said Loveday.

“We gave them money to provide housing and that’s what I think should happen.”

After the tenants are evicted in August of 2020, Reliance Properties, the development company which owns the Fairfield Hotel, says they’ll likely carry out renovations to upgrade the old heritage building, something they say is greatly needed.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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