Life is about to become easier for 18 families in Invermere as the Family Resource Centre will be converting an existing apartment complex into affordable housing.
With funding assistance from the provincial and federal governments, the Columbia Basin Trust as well as local organizations and a generous individual, the Family Resource Centre was able to purchase an 18-unit apartment complex on 10th Avenue near Sobeys to revamp into housing for low-income families. There are three buildings, each consisting of six units, and each apartment has two bedrooms.
Pat Cope, executive director for the Family Resource Centre, expects the units will be filled “instantly.”
“This is a very, very small drop in the bucket of what’s needed,” said Mrs. Cope.
The funding support was made available to her organization after a needs assessment was conducted in 2013, which studied the demand for affordable housing between Spillimacheen and Canal Flats. The assessment cost $30,000, which was covered by Regional District of East Kootenay Area G.
The building sits on lot 218 10th Avenue and was occupied as a regular apartment complex until it was purchased last month. Tenants currently occupying units at the apartment complex who qualify for affordable housing will see their rents reduced, and the remaining units will be rented to new tenants who are eligible for the program.
The previous owner of the building left a $100,000 donation with the Family Resource Centre.
“They wanted to be a part of creating a legacy to leave in the valley — this was very generous of them,” said Mrs. Cope.
Under the Investment in Affordable Housing 2011-2014 Agreement, a total of $744,558 was contributed by the federal and provincial government to make the project possible. That dollar figure was matched by the Columbia Basin Trust.
In a release from Friday, February 14th, the Columbia Basin Trust reminded that one of its strategic priorities is to assist communities in the Columbia Basin to support affordable housing and new housing initiatives.
“All partners and community members connected with this project worked hard and worked co-operatively. The trust is pleased to support increased access to affordable housing for the residents of Invermere,” said Neil Muth, president and chief executive officer.
An additional $150,000 will be available through the Province for construction financing during the interim period, while the Family Resource Centre has pitched in $54,000 of its own.
“Our government’s investment in affordable housing here in Invermere is helping to improve the quality of life of families in need, and is contributing to the social well-being of the entire community,” said David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay.
Rent will be proportionate to each tenant’s income, which Mrs. Cope said will cover the operating costs over its 40-year commitment.
“We have a responsibility to maintain a capital budget for ongoing capital,” she said. “The building has to look as good as or better 40 years from now.”
She said the complex is in good shape in terms of the structure, while new paint and upgrades to the flooring, windows, and lighting will be coming soon.
Since 2011, the Family Resource Centre has expanded to include the Columbia Valley Employment Centre and the Women’s Resource Centre, and recently acquired Interior World, the once privately-owned home decor and furniture store at Frater Landing now known as Ambiente. Ms. Cope said the Family Resource Centre board will continue to expand the affordable housing available in the valley, and is also working on acquiring second-stage transition homes for women and their children fleeing domestic violence.
“We’ve been working on projects for years and wouldn’t you know it they all came together around the same time,” said Mrs. Cope.