Kelowna condo fire victims meet potential new landlords
In an already tight rental market, dozens of Kelowna residents are hoping for a break on renting a new place.
More than 130 people that either lost everything to the Trusswell Road condo blaze or had condos that were heavily damaged July 8 are forced to find new places to live.
Emergency Social Services support has run out.
They were introduced to potential landlords Monday night when the creators of a new website that just launched in Kelowna put away the technology and added a human touch to their search.
Happipad.com brought landlords and rental managers together in person to help expedite new homes for those who experienced loss.
“I’ve had a lot of inquiries from property owners in the Okanagan that are eager to rent out their homes to these people,” Happipad CEO Cailan Libby said.
Walnut Grove Motel resident Mike Sieux brought his personal items with him to the meeting. Everything he owns in the world now fits into a plastic shopping bag.
Now that all the 68-year-old’s possession are gone, he said it leaves him mobile to move anywhere in B.C.
Even with that option, he’s yet to find a new place to live.
“There are a few places that might be affordable but by the time I got there they were already gone,” Sieux said.
The Walnut Grove Motel was one of the few places low-income renters had to live in Kelowna.
“All I want is a room with a bathroom and a window and a door where I can sleep,” said Sieux. “Because I don’t have to worry about furniture or clothes or entertainment or anything. The important thing is to sleep with a roof over my head.”
He found the meeting where tenants and potential landlords met in person to be, “the human way to do it.”
Sieux said he remains emotionally numb a week after failing to find a new home following the fire.
“I was optimistic at the beginning. I kind of hit the bottom, and I’m trying to figure out where this place is: where you’re not hopeful but you’re not depressed. Because right now it’s totally numb. I can’t get myself up and I can’t get myself down.”
The condo fire was sparked by a roofer’s torch at a building under construction at the Water’s Edge complex.
The flames spread to an occupied building, destroying six units and leaving the rest of the units heavily damaged by smoke and water.
At the Walnut Grove Motel, nine of units were destroyed when the six-storey condo building collapsed on it.
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