‘Absolutely critical’: Applications for Tofino Headwaters affordable housing remain open | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

‘Absolutely critical’: Applications for Tofino Headwaters affordable housing remain open

Tofino, BC

The smell of fresh paint wafts through the halls of Tofino’s new Headwaters North rental apartment building as site superintendent Keith Glen takes Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation officials on a tour of the mint 35-unit condo.

Easter Weekend was a celebrated move-in day for 30 or so west coasters, having likely endured vexing housing struggles over the years.

“This is needed in the worst way,” said Glen from the kitchen of one of five accessible, wheelchair-friendly units.

The one-bedroom accessible dwelling rents for $375 for applicants on Deep Subsidy rental assistance. 

Located in the Tonquin neighbourhood, Headwaters are two separate buildings (North and South) developed by Catalyst Community Developments Society on land leased from the Tofino Housing Corporation (THC). The development is funded by BC Housing, Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, the Rural Dividend Fund, THC and the District of Tofino.

Headwaters North, a 35-unit building, is almost full, but the 36-apartment Headwaters South is still taking applicants, according to THC Executive Director Kelly Lin. Out of the 30 or so people that moved-in to Headwaters North, only two were First Nations, Lin notes. To stir up interest from local band members, she’s been meeting with leaders from TFN and Toquaht.

TFN Tribal Administrator Jim Chisholm was impressed with the build, and encouraged Tla-o-qui-aht members to consider applying.

“Most of them are spacious and well laid out,” he said. “I think they’re great units. They are extremely well priced, affordable and very nice and modern. I would be very supportive of our membership coming down and looking at these.”

“We have a very long housing list in our community. We have tremendous demand for housing,” Chisholm continued. “If any of our members want to get in, we would help them get through the paperwork.”

The new rental units at Headwaters allocate 20 per cent to those on fixed incomes, 50 per cent to those with lower incomes and 30 per cent of the units are rented at average market rates. Individuals applying for Headwaters Deep Subsidy or Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) units must also apply to the BC Housing Registry. According to Lin, there are still 12 units available at Headwaters South building and they’re aiming for a July 1, 2024 move-in.

Tofino’s former chief administrative officer Bob Macpherson was on the site tour as an advisor for the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Economic Development Corporation. He likened the construction of Headwaters to being in the “hope business”.

“These projects are absolutely critical to the success of this community. There is no success without affordable housing in this community,” said Macpherson.

The Headwaters buildings feature Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stalls, a common room for birthday parties or family dinners, storage and a shared laundry room.

Lin told the Ha-Shilth-Sa that the original Feb. 2 deadline for Headwaters South submissions doesn’t apply since THC has done a lottery.

“I would encourage First Nation members to apply. If the applicants have a rental elsewhere, the question is, ‘How will they afford the rent?’ As long as they don’t own real estate and can pay rent, we can discuss,” said Lin.

Anyone living in the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District interested in submitting an application form is welcome to visit: https://tofinohousingcorp.ca/home.

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