Published in Valley Voice July 18, 2019
Innovative Kaslo Housing Project Seeks A Willing Landlord
A new small-scale project aimed at providing supportive housing for Kaslo’s homeless or precariously-housed population is poised to move ahead. “All we are missing now is the collaboration of a landlord,” says Erika Bird, chair of the Kaslo Housing Society (KHS).
The society’s program- Community Working to End Homelessness (CWEH)- provides supportive housing to persons needing assistance with finding and staying successfully housed, and who may be hard to house due to a poor housing record, poverty, stigmatizing health conditions, addictions or mental health challenges.
How does CWEH work?
The goal is for KHS to lease an accessible, affordable, adequate unit from a lalndlord for at least one year. KHS then sublets the accommodation while assuming responsibility for rent payment and the condition of the unit. KHS , the landlord and the tenant all agree to work together to ensure tenant housing success. Persons selected to receive housing through the CWEH program will receive support services and case management from a housing navigator.
In effect, the CWEH creates a partnership between a landlord, Kaslo Housing Society and the person in need of stable housing.
The idea behind the CWEH program is not new. “We heard about this program from Kevin Flaherty, our staff at the Kaslo Housing Society” said Bird. “He’d met a group in Whitehorse who have had success with it for a number of years now. They encouraged us to try it as it has proved to be a way of creating solutions on a small scale one person at a time. The experience in Whitehorse is that the program will grow in support and capacity once the community sees the initial success.”
Bird says that before launching the program in Kaslo, the society wanted to have the commitment of resources to support one person for at least one year. “Thanks to some community-minded people here and the Columbia Basin Trust, we now have that,” she says. “We would also like to give a shout out to the staff at Kaslo Western Financial Group who contributed $15,000 from their Community Fundraising Walk.”
Bird says individuals in Kaslo have made pledges to support the program with $10 or $20 per month. “The generosity of these individuals has really impressed us,” she said.
A $5,000. Social Grant from Columbia Basin Trust will get the project off the ground and help the society find the right person to assume the role of housing navigator, “she said. The society has also committed some of its own funds that is has raised through numerous activities over the years.
Persons wishing to make donations to the CWEH or other projects of the Kaslo Housing Society can go to CanadaHelps.ca and make monthly or one time contributions. As a registered charitable organization, the Kaslo Housing Society can issue charitable tax receipts to donors.
Finding suitable accommodation now the priority
With the funds coming together for the first year, Kevin Flaherty, KHS housing coordinator says the focus now is finding a willing and suitable landlord to work with. “We recognize that those offering long-term rental accommodations in this community have choices in applicants for the spaces. We are asking that they consider the support that this project offers an the long-term benefits to the community of having stable housing for all.”
The project will be guided by a CWEH Working Group of interested and skilled community members. The group will have access to a host of policies and practices that have worked well in other communities. One of the goals of the program is to improve the chances of self-sufficiency of homeless individuals and those at imminent risk of homelessness.
Support that will be offered includes helping with the paperwork, transitioning into accommodation, maintaining good landlord relationships, assisting with conflict resolution between tenants and landlords, providing housing loss prevention interventions, and assisting tenants with processes required to obtain rent subsidies.
Experience in Canada and other countries has shown that this model makes for high success rates for individuals who likely are addressing other problems which contribute to their housing difficulties. The CWEH model also minimizes risks for landlords while meaningfully engaging them in resolving homelessness in the community. It will allow KHS to support persons in need without having to own buildings. It will integrate those persons into the community rather than ghettoizing them into one building or neighbourhood and it is designed to be long-term and stable.
Affordable housing is not a Kaslo only concern; a greater and greater proportion of the population is facing housing challenges. The CWEH approach will not address all the housing issues in Kaslo and surrounding area, but it will help to meet the needs of those who face the more intransigent barriers in their search for adequate housing. Meanwhile KHS is actively pursuing longer term solutions.
For more information, contact Kevin Flaherty, Housing coordinator, Kaslo Housing Society, 250-353-8363
Co-operative Housing – Is it an option for you?
Written by Kevin Flaherty – KHS Housing Coordinator
Edited by Alexandra Halliday
Join us at an Information Meeting on Co-op Housing In Kaslo, hosted by the Kaslo Housing Society.
St. Andrew’s Heritage Hall, 500 4th Street, Kaslo,
Tuesday, August 20th at 7 pm.
We welcome all who are interested to this informal 90 minute session. Feel free to bring your children.
One of the resource persons in attendance will be Lorien Quattrocchi, a highly involved housing co-operative member and leader in the Province.
Over the past 16 months, as part of my work for the Kaslo Housing Society, a common thread throughout my many conversations with Kaslo residents has been the lack of accessible and affordable housing in Kaslo and area. Escalating house prices and stagnant incomes make it impossible for many Kaslo residents to buy homes of their own, even older homes, which could be purchased at a lower cost and renovated by their new owners. Many of the residents I have spoken with are working steady and paying a regular rent – but they have been forced to move or are terrified of being asked to move out, due to circumstances beyond their control due to an extreme shortage of suitable rental homes. These people, of course, hope, that the Kaslo Housing Society will succeed in creating some form of affordable public housing, run by the KHS and occupied by themselves as tenants. As you can see from our Our Housing Projects page, the KHS has been diligently working with various funders and partners to develop and implement a variety of housing approaches and solutions to relieve the pressures of this lack of accessible and affordable housing in Kaslo.
As this is a serious situation, which affects the welfare and future of the entire community, the Kaslo Housing Society is desirous to bring together the community to talk about working cooperatively to address our housing needs.
Co-ops are described by many of their residents as great places to live alone, to share a living space with someone, to raise children or to age in place. Cooperative housing organizations are, and have for decades been, a common feature of most Canadian cities, but unfortunately there also exist many misconceptions about what co-op housing is.
Many people confuse co-op housing with condominium or strata ownership structures. In fact, however, housing co-ops more resemble their sister organizations, credit unions. They are controlled and run by the membership, and you must live there to be a member. The co-op housing structure does not allow for absentee owners or for minority controlling proxy voting. Co-op housing, which has been growing in popularity in the country, shares some similarities with co-housing,
Another common misconception is, that everyone, who is not a home owner, loses out on the opportunity to ‘get their equity’. But for many the goal of a secure home is more realistic and more important than thinking of their home as a financial investment.
I have spoken with people in our community, who have lived the positive experience of being part of housing cooperatives. These experiences need to be heard, need to shape the expectations of what co-op housing ‘lives’ like and how it could become part of the housing solution for Kaslo residents.
One person elaborated on the co-op housing experience as follows: “Individual home ownership sounds great if you can afford it. I could always pay the rent but never made enough money to get a down payment. Our co-op may not provide me with individual equity, but it doesn’t generate individual risk either. Instead, I get a secure and well constructed place to live at a reasonable cost and for as long as I need and as long as I participate in the co-op. I think that is a good trade.”
Another person talked about co-op housing members having a say in their housing, even if they don’t have individual ownership. All co-op members live in the co-op. This means, that everyone has a stake in decisions. “The co-op organizational structure means that we all have a voice and a vote and that our vote carries the same weight as everyone else’s.”
The Kaslo Housing Society is holding this information meeting to share some basic information about some common types of cooperative housing and to ascertain, if enough people might be interested in working together, with us to move forward on their own co-op housing project. We look forward to seeing you all at this meeting, so that, together we can explore this potential partial, hands-on solution to our local housing crisis.
JazzFest Lovers’ Camping 2019
The Housing Society thanks Jazzfest for the opportunity to host campers. during Jazzfest weekend They seemed very happy as our guests on our picturesque piece of land, which we lease from the Village of Kaslo. This is the third year we have hosted and it’s a very worthwhile fundraiser. It’s dependent on the work and time from many volunteers, not all of whom are on the board! We so appreciate all their efforts and good spirits. Thank you!
A special Thank You goes out to this year’s Lovers’ Volunteers:
The Valley Voice valleyvoice.ca
December 14, 2017
Kaslo Housing Society presents concept for riverside property
by Jan McMurray – Republished with permission
The Kaslo Housing Society has a concept for an affordable housing complex on the Village-owned land that was set aside for them in 2001, as well as funding for a housing coordinator. Erika Bird, chair of the society, made a presentation at council’s November 28 Committee of the Whole meeting to update the Village on the society’s activities and plans.
In an interview, Bird and Debra Barrett, society secretary, said their key message to council was their continued interest in the riverside property in Kaslo, and their wish to negotiate a lease or transfer of title. “We had a very positive reception,” Bird said. Bird explained that society representatives went before council as a delegation in March, and council asked them to come back with more details about their vision for the property, and information about what other communities are doing.
“So we spent a fair bit of time coming up with a shovel-ready concept,” said Bird.
Barrett, a visual artist who has experience with home renovations, drew up conceptual drawings for a two-storey lodge with 8-12 small studio apartments and a central
courtyard. The drawings were part of the presentation to council for their feedback.
A landlord/ tenant survey conducted by the society this year confirmed that small units (for one person) with $400-$800 monthly rental fees are in greatest demand in Kaslo.
Bird said the society is looking at a phased development; the Riverside Lodge is the concept for phase one.
“We’re at the point where we can’t proceed without the equity,” Bird said “so we’ve asked council to think about that. There are a number of ways it can be done – transfer of title to the society, transfer of title to a third party, a long-term lease.”
A comment made to the society board from Rob Jaswall of CMHC (Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation) was shared with council:
“Provincial and federal government funding for affordable housing is higher now than it is has ever been. To access that funding, you have to start with dirt under your feet.”
To help move a housing project forward, the society will hire a housing coordinator. The coordinator will also work on increasing the number of rentals in town by encouraging
secondary suites and the rental of ‘dark homes’ (unoccupied by their owners for most of the year), and on resolving difficulties between landlords and tenants. Funding for the coordinator has come from CBT ($50,000) and the Kaslo and Area D Economic Development Commission ($14,000), and two more grants are pending.
They’d like to raise enough funding to offer the position for two years.