Four months after the apartment fire at Oceanside Terrace apartments in Parksville, the Salvation Army said nearly all of the uninsured residents have reached a settlement.
Earl Blacklock, Salvation Army manager of community ministries, said the challenge was that about two-thirds or three-quarters of the residents in the 32-unit apartment building were uninsured.
“But because the cause of the fire was known, the insurance for the company responsible — the roofing company —has settled with, I think, all or nearly all of the uninsured people,” said Blacklock, adding those who had insurance were already taken care of.
Back in July, Blacklock said some of the residents were struggling to find housing in the region due to a shortage in accommodation. Since then, Blacklock said, there is at least one person who is “truly homeless” and has been unable to find any place to live. He also said there are still a couple people who are in very temporary accommodation.
Shortly after the fire, Blacklock and Salvation Army Major Norm Hamelin appeared as a delegation before Parksville city council to ask for the city’s assistance in securing land for an affordable housing project or even a tiny homes village.
Blacklock told The NEWS last week that the Salvation Army can move forward with the tiny homes project only as approvals and resources are made available.
“We don’t have any tiny homes in place. We don’t expect that could happen until as early as next fall just because it takes time to put things like that in place,” he said.
“What we are doing is we’re moving forward with consulting and trying to create a non-profit housing co-operative that would be responsible for obtaining the land and the resources for building the tiny homes.”
While the Salvation Army is fairly confident the residents will find long-term housing by the end of the year, Blacklock said those residents have taken up spaces in an already tight real estate market. As a result, the region is going to be facing a much more serious homelessness situation.
“We do need to take action immediately to really deal with the crisis that is unfolding as we wait for other housing units to become available,” Blacklock said.
The Salvation Army is in the process of moving its administration offices into downtown Parksville.
The administraion offices will be moving to unit #1-141 Memorial Ave. in Parksville from the existing location at Wembley Road. The food bank will still be at the Wembley Road location.
Blacklock said moving the offices downtown will bring the Salvation Army closer to its downtown clients.
The office will still keep the same hours, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit parksvillesalvationarmy.ca.