The former Anchor Inn’s makeover into 46 low-income housing units is almost complete, and enough people have applied for residency that they could fill the building more than five times over.
“The demand is real. The number of applicants we’ve had for our 46 units is getting close to 240 completed applications,” said Terrance Thomas, the general manager for the Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society.
Although the ready-by date is tentatively set for September, the Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society (PRHIS) has had to lock off access to the suites because so many have been visiting the site, curious to see the new units.
PRHIS, which operates the building and has overseen its retrofitting, has been working on the former Anchor Inn since acquiring the building in March 2017. The registered non-profit partnered with BC Housing to create several mobility units for tenants with disabilities, two family units and a rental space to host events.
The mobility rooms are outfitted with wider doors, sit-in showers and support rails, while the family units can house two adults and two children. Due to housing regulations, adults and minors cannot live in the same room, making most of the bachelor units unsuitable for families. Couples can share a unit.
The units will be rented between $375 and $600, below the market value based on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest available statistics for the region. Each unit includes phones, WiFi, cable, utilities and furniture.
In February 2017, the hereditary board of the Kitkatla Nation was approached by BC Housing to form the society “knowing how hard it is to find affordable rents,” society president Timothy Innes said.
The units in the former Anchor Inn are only step one of the society’s long-term projects. PRHIS has also acquired Harbourview for 60 family units and long-term housing. Meanwhile, the former Anchor Inn site will have two family units.
“We want to provide not only affordable housing, but it’s safe, quiet possession property where people are not annoyed by others. We’re trying to create a community within the building,” Thomas said. “The property will be highly maintained. We’re looking for people who are looking for a home and stability.”
The non-profit society hopes to be self-sustaining, although Thomas said they’ll need to rent out the event space — where the pub used to be — on top of tenants’ rents in order to break even. Anyone will be welcome to host their fundraisers, weddings, convocations in the room. Once they’ve been in operation for a year, PRHIS hopes to be eligible for grants. The city, although it denied the society’s application for permissive tax exemptions, has written them a letter of support that they can use to apply for grant applications.
When asked what he hopes tenants will get out of the units, Inness said, “Peace and rest. Comfort.”
The operating agreement is for 40 years.
Once PRHIS receives its occupancy permit from the city and passes inspection, these 46 units will join the row of three housing project sites on Park Avenue in Prince Rupert.