Sale of Kiwanis Tower leaves tenants without subsidy

Tenants at Kiwanis Tower are worried about how they'll be able to afford rent following the sale of the building, which has left them without their rent subsidy.

The Central Okanagan Kiwanis Club sold the building, which primarily houses low-income seniors, to 1110 Lawrence Holdings Ltd. last December, after owning and operating the building since it was built at Lawrence and Gordon in the mid 1970's.

But because BC Housing agreements do not automatically transfer to a new owner and 1110 Lawrence Holdings Ltd. is a for-profit company, the building was no longer eligible for subsidies.

About 100 tenants in the 146 unit building had received varying amounts of subsidies prior to the sale.

Janet Davidson, who has liver disease and is on disability, says the loss of the subsidy, in addition to a 3 per cent rent increase this month, has seen her rent almost double.

“I had $236 subsidy and I paid $320,” she said “March 1, I pay $575.50, my parking is $25, so that’s $600.50 and my income is $941 a month. That is not feasible, is it?”

Davidson says when she told management she’d be “screwed” trying to pay the new rent amount she was asked if she wanted to submit her notice to end her tenancy.

With a lack of available rental units in the city, let alone affordable ones, Davidson says she and others affected aren't sure what to do.

“It’s been really harsh for some of us, I know that,” she says “some people are just really, really stressed out, including myself, as to what they’re going to do about this rent increase and the low income everyone has”

Davidson also says tenants have been asked to pay the amount BC Housing would have normally covered for January and February, before the end of March.

BC Housing tells AM1150 tenants may be eligible for a subsidy through other programs, such as the SAFER rental assistance program; however, it’s unclear if tenants like Davidson would qualify because they receive disability.

1110 Lawrence Holdings Limited could not be reached for comment before publication.