City of North Vancouver announces $360,000 grant for displaced fire victims

North Vancouver Fire Department firefighters were seen battling an extensive fire on Dec. 13. Global News

The City of North Vancouver has announced it will provide up to $360,000 to support residents who remain without housing after two large fires in December.

On Dec. 13, a large fire at a 65-unit apartment building on East 12 Street broke out, displacing all residents who lived there. Then, on Dec. 19, a house fire on East 2 Street displaced 10 people.

Around half of the 152 residents, who lost their homes as a result of the fires have yet to find permanent housing replacements, city officials said.

Record-low vacancy rates and increased cost of living have created an “unprecedented need for continued support.”

“Access to affordable housing is a right we all share,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan.

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“For years we have been in an affordability crisis that has left many without the housing options they need. This is particularly true for the more than 150 people that found themselves without a home a week before the holidays.

Click to play video: 'Residents return to fire-damaged homes in North Vancouver'
Residents return to fire-damaged homes in North Vancouver

“A crisis of this magnitude has not been seen in our community in recent memory. That’s why we are supporting those impacted with this one-time grant.”

The grant money will go towards helping with rent costs for those displaced. The funds will pay for the difference between residents’ former rent and their new rent.

“This one-time initiative is designed to provide financial support to eligible residents by bridging the gap between current and anticipated new rental rates for up to one year,” city staff said in an email.

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North Vancouver resident Donny Olson, who was displaced by the Dec. 13 fire, said although he’s found stable housing and doesn’t need help from the city, he knows the money will help his former neighbours that are in need.

“(The announcement) is amazing. The support from people, charities, and now the city, has been … we’re just thankful,” Olson said.

“Seeing the support from the municipal government is good to see. For many of (my neighbours) — we had people on pensions and low income.”

Olson wondered though, once the one-year time limit is up and the grant funding has run out, how will families adapt to their new high rent costs?

According to the city, “the program will also provide the time and support residents need to establish plans for independently adapting to new rents once the program ends.”

The Hollyburn Community Services Society will steward the grant using “industry standards for eligibility and support,” the city said.

Funds for the grant were pulled from the City of North Vancouver’s contingency reserve fund which is designed to support unplanned events.

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To apply for the program, city officials said to contact Hollyburn Community Services at 604-987-8211 for more information.

Click to play video: 'Fire forces North Vancouver residents out of their homes'
Fire forces North Vancouver residents out of their homes

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