Nov. 15, 2019 – The Fairfield Hotel at 1601-1609 Douglas St. will no longer be run by Pacifica Housing. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

More people are being evicted from subsidized housing in Victoria, experts say

Closing of Pacifica Housing’s Fairfield Hotel a sign of ongoing trends

More low-income, high-acuity people are being evicted from their homes, and the trend is only likely to continue, say housing and poverty experts.

The Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) has seen a significant increase in housing evictions in the past four months, especially from occupants living in Pacifica Housing units.

“We’re seeing someone come in almost everyday,” said Doug King, executive director of TAPS. “It’s dramatically increased.”

King said a majority of the people coming in have been evicted due to financial issues, namely not making the rent.

“If a tenant is behind on rent, in the past Pacifica would work with them and maybe do a repayment plan,” King said. Now, he said, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fifteen people were issued eviction notices from Pacifica’s Fairfield Hotel at 1601-1609 Douglas St., which Pacifica recently announced it will be releasing from its operations. The 62-unit building currently houses 51 people.

ALSO READ: Victoria woman experiencing homelessness wants systematic changes as she faces losing her truck

“The problem is if they are going to have to leave that building, we don’t have other suitable housing,” King said. “The only other logical place is the street.”

Pacifica Housing director of property services, Jenn Bouton-Stehle said she’s aware of the eviction increase, but that the problem is regional.

“There’s a housing and economic crisis, even among our working tenants,” she said. “We’re seeing a significant problem with chronic non-payment of rent. We’re a housing-first agency, but even in a housing-first agency we still need to collect rent.”

Bouton-Stehle emphasized that Pacifica does everything in its power to make sure evicted tenants can find new housing options with regional housing partners, or have the resources to do so themselves.

“The problem is if they’re not paying rent, it’s really hard to find them somewhere to go,” she said. “As far as I know, nowhere is taking tenants for free.”

ALSO READ: ‘Affordable’ a matter of perception for downtown Victoria development

On average, the rent at the Fairfield Hotel is $440 per month, though one person hasn’t paid in two years, and many others are far behind and unable or unwilling to pay.

Damage from tenant-to-tenant conflicts can also cost Pacifica up to $2,000 per day, and additionally visitors and break-ins can cause property damage. Often people break in to use the shower facilities in the building.

In total Pacifica was in the red for $116,000 for the Fairfield Hotel in 2018, despite receiving $500,000 in subsidies from the City of Victoria over a 10-year period. Pacifica will pay back what remains from the grant pro-rated.

Bouton-Stehle was adamant, however, that while costs were a consideration in closing the establishment, a larger concern was that the aging building was not suitable for tenants’ needs. Between all 62 suites there are only four shared bathroom facilities, as well as steep staircases that are not safe for a majority of the tenants who are seniors, and require more supportive housing.

ALSO READ: Rent-to-own project welcomes first tenants in Langford

“It was never meant to be a permanent single-room occupancy establishment under our operation,” Bouton-Stehle said. “We intended to keep moving them forward.”

Pacifica plans on closing it in August 2020, and is presently working on triaging patrons to find suitable housing for as many people as it can.

Victoria Coun. Sarah Potts was especially upset to hear of the closure.

“In the midst of a housing crisis we simply can not afford to lose these deeply affordable 62 homes,” Potts said. “Pacifica has been a partner in housing some of the most vulnerable in our community and I credit them for this work. I’d like to work toward solution. Up to this point the city has had no request for additional support or to collaboratively work towards solution.”

ALSO READ: Victoria councillor calls for more affordable housing options for artists

The matter is expected at council for discussion in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, poverty activists are growing more and more worried.

“There are more and more people trying to access subsidized units,” King said. “It’s alarm bells being raised, so that’s why it’s hard to stomach the loss of the Fairfield Hotel because we could really use those units.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

homeless housingPacifica Housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read