Queen Charlotte council warns of housing shortage

Rent will soar from $350 to $900 next month for some people living in subsidized housing in Queen Charlotte.

The affected renters are people with lower incomes who are living with disabilities.

Due mainly to a phase-out of federal funding, all non-profit housing societies on Haida Gwaii are having to consider raising rents, selling property, or finding other sources of revenue.

Already, one Queen Charlotte duplex that was owned by a housing non-profit has been sold.

Mayor Greg Martin said the village recently asked Selina Robinson, B.C.’s new housing minister, to consider temporary funding that will help the M’akola Housing Society and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association avoid selling off any more property in Queen Charlotte.

“We told her we’re losing our subsidized housing here, our affordable housing,” Martin said.

In a recent memo to B.C.’s housing ministry, Queen Charlotte councillors asked that any sales of non-profit housing properties that were originally donated by the Village of Queen Charlotte be used to fund future housing supports on Haida Gwaii.

Councillors also suggested that the province should review its subsidized housing policy, consider subsidies for the homegrown housing societies on Haida Gwaii, and establish a province-wide co-op housing program similar to the one the federal government ran in the 1970s.

Finally, Queen Charlotte council also asked the province to work with the Council of the Haida Nation and release Crown land within the village boundaries to provide new lots for private homes, market rentals, non-profit co-ops, and subsidized housing.

Councillors noted that two families have recently had to camp in the village for lack of housing, and several young people have moved away for the same reason.

“Our local businesses are desperate for staff, and we have jobs, but this lack of options for housing is strangling our economy,” they said.

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