Nelson city council has supported one request for funding from the city’s affordable housing fund and referred another request to a committee.
Council agreed Monday to give up to $15,000 to the Nelson CARES Room to Live program, which is refurbishing Ward Street Place, enough to fix up one apartment and provide for ongoing maintenance. The century-old building had 34 single room occupancy units and three one-bedroom apartments, whose operations are funded solely through rental income.
Nelson CARES has already raised $2.2 million to complete health and safety improvements and move the Stepping Stones emergency shelter from the building to a new site, but is still seeking a little under $700,000 to upgrade each room and common living spaces, install energy efficient windows and doors, and fund a long-term maintenance reserve.
Based on a request received in June, city staff suggested a $16,000 contribution from the affordable housing fund to support the redevelopment of two permanent housing units.
However, councillor Donna Macdonald explained Nelson CARES originally estimated the cost of redeveloping each unit at $8,000, but is now including ongoing maintenance, nearly doubling the total. She also noted CARES has secured funding from the Regional District of Central Kootenay, with $5,500 in hand and another $50,000 expected.
Meanwhile, a request from Pastor Jim Reimer of Kootenay Christian Fellowship for $5,000 from the same fund towards a feasibility study of developing a campground for homeless people was referred to the Nelson Housing Committee, a group with representation from the city, landlords and property managers, as well as the Social Planning Action Network. Their next meeting is scheduled for October 28.
Two regional district directors have already committed $2,000 each towards the study, which Reimer proposed in the wake of the dismantling of a homeless camp this summer west of the city. He said a campground could be a “safe haven” for the homeless, and give them a place to eat, sleep, bathe, and meet with service providers.
The affordable housing fund, created in 2006, accepts contributions from development applicants who are seeking amendments to the zoning bylaw or official community plan that would result in additional residential or commercial density.
As of the end of last year, about $60,000 sat in the fund, and this year $10,230 has been used to match a Columbia Basin Trust grant to update a 2010 affordable housing study.
One other potential draw on the funds relates to $22,500 provided by Golden Life Management, the developer of Lake View Village seniors facility. In 2010, council passed a resolution saying the money would be refunded if an agreement was reached indicating affordable housing units would be kept in perpetuity. However, that deal has never been completed, so the funds haven’t been returned.
That left about $27,000 in the fund to support other projects, which will be reduced to $12,000 once the contribution to the Ward Street Place project is deducted.