Society features

Ceremony marks completion of Revelstoke Community Housing Society’s new Humbert Street housing project

From left to right: Sheena Wells, Randy Driediger, Jane McNab, Karen Ball, Rana Nelson, Peter Bernacki and Tara Sutherland.

On the morning of July 28, 2022, members of the Columbia Basin Trust, BC Housing Society, City of Revelstoke, Absolute Contracting and Revelstoke Community Housing Society (RCHS) cut a ceremonial ribbon celebrating the opening of the rue Humbert project.

These homes are the result of a partnership between the province, BC Housing, Columbia Basin Trust, the City of Revelstoke and the (RCHS).

Members of all parties who made the Humbert Street affordable housing project possible cut the ceremonial ribbon. (left to right): Vice President of Columbia Basin Trust, David Raven, President of RCHS, Randy Driediger, Mayor of Revelstoke, Gary Sulz, Assistant Vice President of Development and Asset Strategies of BC Housing, Kelly Miller and Scott Robertson of Absolute Contracting. Photo: Nora Hughes

The project provides much-needed affordable housing to tackle Revelstoke’s housing crisis and labor shortage – issues which Mayor Gary Sulz says go hand in hand during the event. The opening ceremony heard speeches from Mayor Gary Sulz, Columbia Basin Trust Vice President David Raven, Kelly Miller, Assistant Vice President of Development and Asset Strategies for BC Housing, Randy Driediger, President of RCHS, and Sheena Wells, Vice President of RCHS.

RCHS Vice President Sheena Wells delivers remarks at the Humbert Street Project kick-off event. Photo: Nora Hughes

“We are thrilled to see this investment in affordable housing in our community come to fruition,” Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz said in a news release. “The Council and City of Revelstoke are proud to support these initiatives, as the ability to attract and retain a quality workforce is imperative in a community like Revelstoke where tourism is an important economic driver. Most importantly, Revelstoke is a more diverse and vibrant community when we have a variety of housing options available to our citizens.

This building is part of British Columbia’s 10-year, $7 billion housing plan.

Background: Learn more about the project and the possible future direction of non-profit housing in Revelstoke

The story below is part of an article that first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. Read the full e-edition here:

By Aaron Orlando

The Revelstoke Community Housing Society (RCHS), an independent, volunteer-run non-profit, hopes to welcome new tenants to its new Humbert Street project this summer, which will have 24 one-bedroom units.

RCHS currently operates two rental units, a 12 townhouse complex and a separate duplex, both located nearby on Oscar Street.

The nonprofit’s goal is to create a variety of affordable housing options in the community and uses community-minded volunteers to run the operation. Essentially, they develop housing projects, including all the heavy lifting of securing land, zoning, grants, financing, and supervising development contracts. Once completed, they oversee and manage the projects using property management companies.

The 24 new units on Humbert Street are the company’s largest project to date and will include one-bedroom units at $1,150 per month plus utilities. Renters must fit within an income window, and there’s a maximum of two people per unit, among other rules — like no pets.

297 Humbert Street Project photographed this summer. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The development game is a heavy hitter for a volunteer-run organization, which essentially serves as a developer with capital grants from organizations like Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing. In addition to volunteers, they have a project manager, Rosie Denton, who works less than half time due to budget constraints.

RCHS President Randy Driediger said they hoped to get cheaper rents from the project, but the reality of construction costs and the fact that they are not subsidized to operate mean they have to operate under constraints financial.

“It’s a big responsibility for the volunteers, but it’s a big role in the community,” says Driediger, which, again, largely falls to the volunteers, who manage with the resources they have.

The model contrasts with other resort communities, such as Whistler, whose local government identified the housing problems created by mountain resort development in the 1990s, and established and funded the Whistler Housing Authority.

Future direction coordinated?

The most interesting part of the interview was about possible future directions. Driediger, who is known for his work at Revelstoke Credit Union Insurance, and also for his past roles in the community as a volunteer firefighter, says RCHS is doing a strategic planning review, and part of that has been the networking with other housing groups.

Revelstoke has a seniors’ housing corporation and a new employee housing corporation. Additionally, BC Housing told Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine that it plans to bid on a management services contract for its planned development on Downie Street, as well as its Rivers Edge and Columbia Gardens rental properties, which it has purchased and renovated. during the last years. .

Inside a Humbert Street project unit. Photo: Nora Hughes/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Driediger says the ongoing talks, which involve many parties, are still in their infancy. Where are the opportunities? How could governance be done differently? Are the efforts duplicated? Can they be better coordinated? All of these issues are open to discussion, says Driediger, who notes that RCHS’s board membership includes members who belong to other housing corporations.

The sense is that it is at an early stage, but something to watch as the housing and affordability crisis shows no signs of going anywhere. Can Revelstoke coordinate things better?

For now, Driediger says RCHS is focused on completing construction of the 24 new units on Humbert Street, and then moving on to next steps.

“We are very excited,” he said.

You can apply for housing on the Revelstoke Community Housing Society website at www.revelstokecommunityhousing.com.