First affordable housing project near completion in Creston

The CVCHS was formed to find a solution to the low-income housing problem in Creston, B.C.

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A view of the CVCHS project under construction from the outside.  The siding still needs to be added and the deck needs to be completed.

The first affordable housing project in Creston is close to completion. — Heather More photo

Working with vulnerable citizens, social service agencies in Creston realized that housing was becoming an issue. A solution was needed.

The Creston Valley Community Housing Society (CVCHS) was formed in 2008 to tackle the problem.

Extensive research was done in the form of a needs and demands assessment, studying who would most benefit from affordable housing. 

Initially it was assumed that Creston's large senior population would be the ones most in need of affordable housing. However, when the results were in, CVCHS was surprised to learn it was actually families that had the highest need for affordable housing in Creston.

Armed with this information, CVCHS started looking for land, funding and community support.

As with most projects of this proportion, all of this takes time. CVCHS had been told that it would take between five and 10 years to go from idea to completion on an affordable housing project. 

“Of course we thought it would take us less time,”  said Heather More, chair of CVCHS. 

It didn’t. Now, seven years later they are excited to be nearing completion.

Funding

As CVCHS searched for and procured grants and funding, one requirement was that some of the funding had to come from within the community.

“Our biggest supporter to date is the Creston Valley Gleaners, who’ve been quite amazing in their support.” said More. “They were the ones that, unasked for, gave us $25,000 when the society first formed, which was what allowed us to do the research and the preliminary work.”

More said CVCHS was very fortunate to have grants available for this project. She said that the majority of the funding for this project came through the affordable rental initiative which is a three-way partnership consisting of the Columbia Basin Trust, the Province through B.C. housing, and the federal Government.

The remainder of the money is available from CVCHS itself who will carry a mortgage on the property.  This will be paid for by the rent once the units are occupied. 

The CVCHS aspired to work with local contractors, architects and as much as possible with local trades people.  They wanted there to be an economic benefit to the Creston Valley as well as a social benefit. 

Near completion

The project is scheduled to be completed early in the fall of this year.  There are two two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.

More said that once they have a definite date of completion, they can start taking applications from potential renters.

“We’ve have quite a few expressions of interest, but people have to go on looking for places to live, they can’t wait for us to be finished,” said More. “It’s hard to say how many of those people will still be needing places to live.”

Future for the CVCHS

What future projects are in store for the CVCHS? 

More said that they are looking at a few options within Creston.  Depending on available land and funding, they may be willing to expand their horizons and explore new options.  Right now, they are happy to be able to wrap up their first successful affordable housing project.

 

Kimberly Shellborn

Kim is the editorial coordinator at Koocanusa Publications. She recently returned to the Kootenays after 15 years in Spain, where she taught English and got to know the food and wine regions of the country. When she’s not writing or taking photographs, she can be found showing her husband and two children all the backcountry trails that she longed for while in Europe. View all of Kimberly Shellborn’s articles

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