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

GIF
’90s rock band resurfaces with songs never properly recorded or released

Underwater Sunshine’s online reunion involves four guys who lost contact for years

Tim Siebert, one half of the partnership behind Citrus & Cane, says opening the Douglas Street cocktail lounge during a pandemic had challenges, but the bar is ready to adapt to whatever comes next. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
New Victoria tropical cocktail lounge designed with COVID-19 safety in mind

Citrus & Cane opens in site of former Copper Owl after eight-month delay

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read