Recently purchased by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, ‘The Balmoral’ will remain an affordable housing option in the city. (Twitter/Victoria Cool Aid Society)

Cool Aid Society saves affordable apartment from uncertain future

Preserving affordable housing in Victoria part of organization’s mission

The Balmoral apartment building in Victoria will remain affordable housing thanks to the Cool Aid Society.

For a few years the Victoria-based non-profit has been prioritizing affordable housing projects as part of its mission to prevent homelessness, and moved quickly on the small building when the property went on the market.

“There is a need to preserve affordable housing as well as build more,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager for the Victoria Cool Aid Society. “A lot of properties get purchased, torn down and then very expensive condos… can be put up in their place.”

The 16-unit building, in the 900 block of Balmoral Road, is already full of tenants, and will continue to offer below market-rate housing under the new ownership. And the Balmoral is just one of Cool Aid’s affordable housing ventures.

So far, Mount Edwards Court, a seniors building with light support services, and the newly acquired Balmoral apartment building are the only affordable housing options the organization owns – but it is working on more, including properties on Douglas Street, Gorge Road East and in the Burnside area, where Cool Aid has proposed a 150-unit complex with just under two-thirds allocated for below-market rentals.

READ ALSO: Cool Aid’s Cedar Grove plans sent back by Victoria City Council

READ ALSO: City of Victoria announces two more affordable housing projects

Supportive housing – which is typically staffed 24/7 – will remain a priority for Cool Aid, but Rycroft said affordable homes play a vital role in preventing homelessness before it happens.

“The affordable housing that Cool Aid now provides essentially prevents people from becoming homeless and gives them an option,” Rycroft said. “Folks living there don’t need any support from Cool Aid, what they need is affordable rent. Maybe they’re students, maybe they’re seniors, maybe they’re single families…maybe they’re unemployed – but for whatever reason they can’t afford regular sized rents here in Victoria.”

The organization purchased the building entirely with money from its housing fund, filled with contributions from the community, though Rycroft said typically funding comes at least in part from government partnerships.

“We saw the opportunity, we needed to move quickly, we had the money in our housing fund and we made the purchase,” he said. “Making sure people don’t become homeless is one the best things that we can possibly do.”

READ ALSO: What is affordable housing?

READ ALSO: City of Victoria to see 588 affordable housing units



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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