DQCHS executive director Luanne Ruotsalainen in front of the society’s new building on McLean Street downtown Quesnel, which will offer affordable housing to locals. Contributed photo

Dakelh Housing Society to run McLean Street building as well as Lions’ Silver Manor

Local society accepting applications for McLean building, and soon Silver Manor on McNaughton

One of the many construction projects going on in downtown Quesnel is a four-storey, 38-unit affordable housing apartment building on McLean Street, between St Laurent Avenue and Shepherd Avenue.

The housing development, funded in part by BC Housing and with support from M’akola Development Services and the City of Quesnel, will be run by Dakelh & Quesnel Community Housing Society (DQCHS), and construction recently began on the fourth and final level.

Executive director Luanne Ruotsalainen says the building will be completed by the end of November this year, with move in dates scheduled for December 2018 or January 2019, and the building will be a mix of affordable and market-value housing. Although Dakelh Housing Society is overseeing Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA), tenants do not need to be of aboriginal descent. The units will provide affordable housing to those who need it.

The new building will also offer partially and fully accessible apartments for those with disabilities, and Vicki Hartley, DQCHS’ tenant counsellor, says all tenants will have access to the programs run by the non-profit housing society.

“We run different programs. As a tenant counsellor, I do one-on-ones with people, I do home visits, we do income taxes for our tenants if they want it, we do food programs, and a variety of things.”

The food program offers items sold at cost to tenants.

“We were finding some of our families were finding it hard to make ends meet at the end of the month. We decided to start stocking things and then sell them at a reasonable rate,” explains Hartley.

DQCHS also runs a retail store, stocking hoodies, T-shirts and other items. They hope to open a storefront downtown at some point, as the sale of these items supports the society’s food program.

Hartley says the society’s goal is to help tenants be as successful as possible. Many of their tenants living in the society’s other buildings and homes – they run a building on Front Street, as well as some private homes in residential neighbourhoods in Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Bella Coola – are single parents, people putting themselves through school, or individuals who aren’t able to work for one reason or another.

If DQCHS can’t find a spot in their own buildings for someone in need of housing, Ruotsalainen says her staff help seniors and single working parents fill out applications for subsidies so they can afford to remain where they are, rather than moving to cheaper housing.

Ruotsalainen says the society always has a wait list, and the need for affordable housing in Quesnel is great.

In addition to the new building on McLean, Dakelh Housing Society will also be managing Silver Manor, at McNaughton Avenue and Reid Street, on behalf of the Quesnel Lions Housing Society (QLHS). Tenants in this seniors’ housing development will have access to all DQCHS’ programs.

“Because we have done it for so long and we are successful in our programs and with our tenants, and we have the same philosophies, [the Lions Housing Society] thought it would be a good fit,” comments Hartley.

Silver Manor’s 30 units could be ready for tenants as early as late October 2018. Named in honour of the late Ron Silver, who was a dedicated volunteer, the Manor is primarily for residents with household incomes no higher than $28,000 per year, living independently, and aged 65+ or aged 55+ with a recognized disability. The Manor will not offer assisted-living services.

Monthly rents for units will be around $600, says a QLHS press release, not including utilities or fees for laundry and parking.

“We think that this agreement [with Dakelh] is a big win-win,” says Mitch Vik, QLHS president.

“QLHS has no experience managing housing, while DQCHS has operated many housing units for decades. They’ve already been a huge help to us.”

Applications

Applications for Dakelh’s McLean Street building are already being accepted. To be eligible for Dakelh’s affordable housing, an individual’s rent must exceed 30 per cent of their income. Applications are assessed based on need. Visit www.dqchs.org for details on how to apply, call 250-992-3306 or visit the society’s office at 100-744 Front Street.

Applications for Silver Manor can be picked up at K-Max on Reid Street, at the DQCHS office, and are available online at www.qlionshousing.ca.

Once filled out, they will be accepted at Dakelh’s office at 100-744 Front Street starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13, on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Only applications delivered in person to the DQCHS office will be accepted, and none will be accepted before June 13,” says Vik.

All things being equal, applicants who don’t have a vehicle will take priority over those who do, as Silver Manor has just one parking stall for every three units.

“Most people we’re targeting don’t have or need a car. Our North Quesnel location is excellent for living car-free,” explains Vik.

More information on eligibility requirements are available online and on the buildings’ application forms.

Contest – name DQCHS’ building on McLean Street

DQCHS’ new building needs a name! The society is inviting Quesnel students to enter their suggestions for the chance to win $150.

The contest is open to students from elementary and high schools in School District #28 as well as College of New Caledonia and University of Northern British Columbia students in Quesnel.

Submit building name ideas, including your name, contact details and school, to dqchs@shaw.ca or in person at the DQCHS office at 100-744 Front Street, by June 29, 2018, to be eligible to win. The best and most suitable building name will be chosen from the entries and announced early July.

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