10:38 AM

Tenant says finding an affordable home in Nanaimo was “life-changing"

“I never thought I’d struggle to find a home. After I got sick, it was tough finding a place to rent,” says Louise, a former long-time homeowner.

Louise moved to Vancouver Island from Quebec in 1981. Right away she knew the island was her forever home. She settled in, attending university, enjoying ocean walks, gentle winters, and year-round biking.

Later, Louise bought a house and raised her family of four. For years, Louise worked as a teaching assistant in Nanaimo. She and her kids enjoyed a busy, happy family life.  

Everything changed when Louise got sick

Crushing, chronic, crippling migraines made regular work impossible. Often bedridden for days, Louise could no longer look after her house, the yard, or keep a job.  

After months of not working, Louise knew she’d have to sell the house. After she sold the house and paid her debts, Louise was almost out of money.

Finding a suitable, secure place to live was hard

Finally, Louise found a new home – a shared house with a roommate.  Unfortunately, their lifestyle differences made home sharing challenging. To manage her chronic pain, Louise needs quiet and deep rest.

Louise applied online for affordable rental housing

A friend mentioned that a nearby, new affordable housing project was accepting applications. People with a range of incomes and family sizes were welcome to apply.    

Apartments included studio to one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. Homes are for families with low-to-moderate incomes, seniors and people living with disabilities. More than half of the tenants pay rent-geared-to-income -- rent is 30% of their income.

Louise applied for a one-bedroom and moved in a few months later.

“It’s a solid building. My next-door neighbour and I are musicians. I play the ukulele and she plays the harp. We can’t hear each other practice”, says Louise.

The well-insulated building was built to be energy efficient. Louise reports “it’s always comfortable. Never too hot or too cold. My apartment faces south-west, and it is comfortable year-round. I moved here in winter and never had to turn the heat on. My heating costs are low and affordable.”.

Biking is popular

Like many of her neighbours, Louise bikes everywhere. Bike paths surround the building. A bike path across the street takes riders to Maffeo Sutton/Sway’ A’ Lana Park. Overlooking Nanaimo harbour, the park links the Harbour Front Walkway to the city.

Residents who prefer walking have lots of options too. Public transit is nearby making longer hiking adventures easy. Walkers wanting to stay close to home can explore community parks or take a 20-minute stroll to the beach.

Louise’s favourite part about her new home, “My relief, I feel safe living here. I can afford to live here. The day I moved in a huge weight lifted from me. It was life-changing”.

Find out more about affordable housing or apply online:

Partners built these homes together

The Province, through BC Housing, invested approximately $7.4 million for this project. Added ongoing annual operating funding is about $704,000. Non-profit housing partners donated the land.

Since 2017, the Province has delivered more than 76,000 new homes that are completed or underway for people in B.C., including more than 1,600 homes in Nanaimo.

Photo submitted by Louise.