Renae Podgorney said she’s been “held hostage” by a lack of rentals. The mother of two has been living out of a hotel room for the past year. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Renae Podgorney said she’s been “held hostage” by a lack of rentals. The mother of two has been living out of a hotel room for the past year. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

‘It’s a nightmare’: Northern B.C. family desperate after living in hotel for a year

Renae Podgorney says because of a lack of rentals, she’s now applying to rent a one-bedroom unit

A person’s home is their castle, but for some Quesnel residents, like Renae Podgorney, the search for her own castle has been gruelling.

The mother of two is on disability and has been living at the Grace Inn for nearly a year.

“We’ve been stuck in a hotel for 11 months in a single room,” she said. “I got held hostage here. I have FASD [Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder]. I’ve been struggling.”

Rental units in Quesnel are hard to come by no matter what the situation. Podgorney said she’s viewed 10 places on her quest to find a place, but each room she’s viewed had at least 150 applicants.

Tanya Turner, Quesnel’s director of development services, said she wasn’t surprised to hear people are struggling, noting she’s heard from all kinds of people scrambling to find housing.

“I’m going to be very interested what our next population stats are,” she said. “It seems like there’s a lot more people.”

Quesnel will be releasing a new housing plan later this year.

The city’s health care recruitment co-ordinator, Beverlee Barr, works to find rental units for new health care workers. In a presentation to the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District, she said Quesnel’s rental vacancy rate is nearly zero per cent.

The city even holds a property year round that new health care workers can live in before finding a place.

Mary Charlotte is the property manager at an apartment building with more than 20 units.

“A good rental is hard to find,” she said. “I don’t normally have many empties or any units sitting for long — maybe for maintenance or cleaning, but my units get rented fast.”

Charlotte has been the property manager at the building for six years.

“I do think that it’s been harder with COVID-19 — not as many people are moving,” she said. “But I think the turn over has been about the same over the last few years.”

Turner said a number of housing initiatives stopped because of COVID-19, adding the city is working hard to attract developers to Quesnel, but finding someone to develop the right kind of building in 2020 is proving to be a challenge.

“[Developers] want to come in here and do a 100-unit building,” Turner said. “You really need to think about the infrastructure that would need to change there. The 12- to 20-unit buildings are what we need.”

Turner said other population centres in the area, like Prince George, are facing similar problems.

READ MORE: Rental vacancy rates last year hit lowest since 2002 after third year of decline

“I moved here 20-some years ago, and back then, we really had to scrounge for apartments,” she said. “It got way better for a while, and now it seems to have gone again.”

Any solutions and new buildings might be too late for people like Podgorney, who is now so desperate to find her own place that she’s trying to rent one-bedroom apartments just to have her own place.

“I’ve gone through so much, I’m just at my limit,” she said. “From deaths in family and not being able to afford to go, to my son falling behind from lack of help … It’s a nightmare I’m living.”

READ MORE: Quesnel council moving forward with bylaw to enforce rental standards

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

rental marketRentals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

A Prince Rupert port expansion project received a $25 million investment from the provincial government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Jan. 14. Seen here is Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal export terminal in Prince Rupert (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
$25 million government investment in Prince Rupert port expansion project

Prince Rupert port expansion project expected to create more than 2,200 jobs

For the second time in less than a year, Air Canada announced on Jan. 13 it has suspended flights on the Prince Rupert-Vancouver route as of Jan 17. (Photo by: Jerold Leblanc)
Cessation of flights to YPR will affect the municipal economy and global trade, P.R. Mayor said

Chamber of Commerce said it will aggressively pursue the resumption of flights to Prince Rupert

Air Canada has suspended flights to Prince Rupert Regional Airport due to COVID-19 mitigation, the airline announced on Jan. 13. (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
YPR is not immune to plummeted air travel demands – 25 jobs lost

Prince Rupert Regional Airport flight cancellation will levee significant hardship - Rick Leach

Air Canada announced on Jan 13, that it is reducing operations by 25 per cent affecting flights into and from Prince Rupert.
Flights to Prince Rupert cancelled

Air Canada announced reduction in operation and more than 1,700 employees affected

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

Screenshot from video.
2 students arrested in assault of transgender girl at Lower Mainland school

Mother says daughter was targeted because of how she identifies

Constable Ken Jaques broke a window and crawled into a home to rescue an elderly man who had be laying on the floor for days. Jaques was the officer who provided oversight for the 2020 Remembrance Day services and is shown here in a picture with his son. Photo Andrea DeMeer
Senior who fell and spent days lying on floor of home saved by Princeton cop

He broke the glass and crawled into the house, while calling for assistance from BC Ambulance

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
B.C. Coast Salish artist designs new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Most Read