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Miramichi eviction prompts conversation on affordable housing

Click to play video: 'Miramichi eviction prompts conversation on affordable housing' Miramichi eviction prompts conversation on affordable housing
WATCH ABOVE: The sudden eviction of over 50 tenants in Miramichi is prompting a larger conversation about affordable housing in the city. Silas Brown reports – Jun 23, 2019

As the displaced residents of the Cole Crescent building in Miramichi, N.B., get ready to move from one temporary shelter to another, a broader conversation over the state of affordable housing in the city is ramping up.

“The affordable housing is next to nil as far as I’m concerned,” said tenant Steve MacDonald. “I know that other towns and other cities have all kinds available and Miramichi seems to not have realized that there’s a need.”

MacDonald is one of over 50 people given four hours notice that they would be evicted from their building on Wednesday, after a fire marshal found exposed electrical wires and other issues in the building.

Landlord Brian Grosseth says the loose wires in the building are the result of ongoing renovations. Courtesy: Steve MacDonald

READ MORE: Several tenants remain in limbo after Miramichi building deemed unsafe  

Since then, up to 15 tenants have been staying in a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Golden Hawk community shelter, but are being moved into the gym at the James M. Hill High School.

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MacDonald says many of the tenants are actively looking for other places to live, but with a vacancy rate of about 1.5 per cent, housing in the city is hard to come by. Most landlords also charge a full month’s damage deposit, meaning that tenants often have to pay upwards of $1,000 to move into a new apartment.

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon says the city is well aware of the affordable housing crisis and is doing all it can to get more housing built, but is having a hard time attracting development.

“There needs to be some interest in actually creating long-term affordable housing in the community and mid-range housing. We’re going to continue to reach out to every developer that we can and hopefully someone will be interested, especially with the new federal and provincial incentive programs that have recently come out,” he said.

WATCH: Residents of Miramichi apartment building forced out of their homes

Click to play video: 'Residents of Miramichi apartment building forced out of their homes' Residents of Miramichi apartment building forced out of their homes
Residents of Miramichi apartment building forced out of their homes – Jun 20, 2019

Miramachi MLA Michelle Conroy says she intends to do what she can to make affordable housing for the area a provincial priority, but also points to the lack of emergency preparedness in the city.

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“We have many buildings around here with a lot of people in them. So if this was to happen again, it’s a lot of work to get somebody situated and there needs to be discussion there needs to be meetings about what happens and to know, you know, where they’re going immediately.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s ridiculous’: Dozens of tenants left homeless after Miramichi building deemed unsafe

There is yet to be a concrete date for when tenants can get back into their homes, but according to the owner, he’s hoping to have the building ready in the next four to five days.

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