Nelson’s first new affordable housing complex in seven years has opened its doors.
Tenants began moving into 43-unit Hall Street Place on Monday, over two years after Nelson CARES purchased the land from Culos Development to build the condo development.
“This is just absolutely amazing what Nelson CARES was able to do,” said Mayor John Dooley. “Once again they’ve delivered a high-quality project in our community.”
The building at 205 Hall Street opens with Nelson in its seventh straight year of a zero vacancy rate.
During a tour of the building provided to media Monday, Nelson CARES executive director Jenny Robinson said the majority of tenants were already people searching for housing within the city.
“We didn’t advertise at all for this building. We didn’t put an ad in the paper … and we had 280 people walk through the doors and get their name on the list without any prompting,” she said. “So it’s crazy, the demand is very high.”
The building features nine units for people on low income, with rents ranging from $375 to $660 per month, 20 units where rents of $650 to $950 are based on income, and 12 market rental units of $975 to $1,625 per month.
There are also two three-bedroom units for people with disabilities. Those units, which cost $375 to $445 per month, also feature 24-7 staffing.
Robinson said successful applicants were chosen based on several factors including those paying more than 50 per cent of their income on housing, people homeless or at-risk of homelessness, women escaping domestic violence, families with children and people living with mobility disabilities.
To pay for the project, Nelson CARES was provided a $4.3-million grant and $11.6 million in repayable financing from BC Housing. Columbia Basin Trust also pitched in a grant of $542,000.
Robinson said the project never would have happened without government assistance.
“These rents without public money would be $4,000 per month, base,” she said. “It’s out of the stratosphere for us to do this without a public partner.”
Dooley said he appreciated how the building fits in with the aesthetic of Hall and Front Streets. As the city went through its renovations of Hall Street, Dooley said there was hope a large development would be built on the once-empty lot next to the Nelson and District Community Complex.
“It’s kind of bringing people to the downtown core. You can walk everywhere from here. We’ve got the fitness centre, the arena, the swimming pool, and Finley’s,” said Dooley.
“What more do you want? I could move in myself.”
Hall Street Place is the first of three new affordable housing developments to be completed in Nelson.
Nelson CARES is also constructing Lakeside Place at 805 Nelson Ave., which will serve seniors and adults with disabilities. Robinson said she expects the building to open in October.
Work is also underway at 520 Falls St. on SHARE Housing’s building, which will feature 39 units with renters paying 30 per cent of their pre-tax income, or the maximum amount defined as affordable by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The last affordable housing building to open in Nelson was Anderson Gardens in 2013. But that development, built for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, did little to salve the city’s housing crunch.
Robinson said Monday she didn’t believe Hall Street Place would move the needle much either. But for the people who are moving into their new apartments this month, she said they are in for a treat.
“That’s the joy of watching people come in the building and get housed. It’s pretty marvellous to see people’s faces when they come in.”
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