Nov. 15, 2019 – The Fairfield Hotel at 1601-1609 Douglas St. will no longer be run by Pacifica Housing. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

More people are being evicted from subsidized housing in Victoria, experts say

Closing of Pacifica Housing’s Fairfield Hotel a sign of ongoing trends

More low-income, high-acuity people are being evicted from their homes, and the trend is only likely to continue, say housing and poverty experts.

The Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) has seen a significant increase in housing evictions in the past four months, especially from occupants living in Pacifica Housing units.

“We’re seeing someone come in almost everyday,” said Doug King, executive director of TAPS. “It’s dramatically increased.”

King said a majority of the people coming in have been evicted due to financial issues, namely not making the rent.

“If a tenant is behind on rent, in the past Pacifica would work with them and maybe do a repayment plan,” King said. Now, he said, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fifteen people were issued eviction notices from Pacifica’s Fairfield Hotel at 1601-1609 Douglas St., which Pacifica recently announced it will be releasing from its operations. The 62-unit building currently houses 51 people.

ALSO READ: Victoria woman experiencing homelessness wants systematic changes as she faces losing her truck

“The problem is if they are going to have to leave that building, we don’t have other suitable housing,” King said. “The only other logical place is the street.”

Pacifica Housing director of property services, Jenn Bouton-Stehle said she’s aware of the eviction increase, but that the problem is regional.

“There’s a housing and economic crisis, even among our working tenants,” she said. “We’re seeing a significant problem with chronic non-payment of rent. We’re a housing-first agency, but even in a housing-first agency we still need to collect rent.”

Bouton-Stehle emphasized that Pacifica does everything in its power to make sure evicted tenants can find new housing options with regional housing partners, or have the resources to do so themselves.

“The problem is if they’re not paying rent, it’s really hard to find them somewhere to go,” she said. “As far as I know, nowhere is taking tenants for free.”

ALSO READ: ‘Affordable’ a matter of perception for downtown Victoria development

On average, the rent at the Fairfield Hotel is $440 per month, though one person hasn’t paid in two years, and many others are far behind and unable or unwilling to pay.

Damage from tenant-to-tenant conflicts can also cost Pacifica up to $2,000 per day, and additionally visitors and break-ins can cause property damage. Often people break in to use the shower facilities in the building.

In total Pacifica was in the red for $116,000 for the Fairfield Hotel in 2018, despite receiving $500,000 in subsidies from the City of Victoria over a 10-year period. Pacifica will pay back what remains from the grant pro-rated.

Bouton-Stehle was adamant, however, that while costs were a consideration in closing the establishment, a larger concern was that the aging building was not suitable for tenants’ needs. Between all 62 suites there are only four shared bathroom facilities, as well as steep staircases that are not safe for a majority of the tenants who are seniors, and require more supportive housing.

ALSO READ: Rent-to-own project welcomes first tenants in Langford

“It was never meant to be a permanent single-room occupancy establishment under our operation,” Bouton-Stehle said. “We intended to keep moving them forward.”

Pacifica plans on closing it in August 2020, and is presently working on triaging patrons to find suitable housing for as many people as it can.

Victoria Coun. Sarah Potts was especially upset to hear of the closure.

“In the midst of a housing crisis we simply can not afford to lose these deeply affordable 62 homes,” Potts said. “Pacifica has been a partner in housing some of the most vulnerable in our community and I credit them for this work. I’d like to work toward solution. Up to this point the city has had no request for additional support or to collaboratively work towards solution.”

ALSO READ: Victoria councillor calls for more affordable housing options for artists

The matter is expected at council for discussion in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, poverty activists are growing more and more worried.

“There are more and more people trying to access subsidized units,” King said. “It’s alarm bells being raised, so that’s why it’s hard to stomach the loss of the Fairfield Hotel because we could really use those units.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

House fire in View Royal sends one to hospital Saturday morning

View Royal Fire Rescue says fire is now out

Camosun student starts bursary program for low-income students

The Jor-Dawn Smith Bursary will go to one Greater Victoria graduate in spring 2020

Victoria property company plans to replace Saanich apartments with townhouses

Abstract Developments plans 26 townhouses for Gorge Road West

Curtain closes on Sidney’s Star Cinema location

The iconic theatre will move to a temporary location after its last showing Sunday

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Most Read