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City steps up for low-income housing project; Kootenay unemployment rate highest in province

The city approved a contribution to the 2017 Nelson CARES Society Room to Live Campaign with funds to match those being raised by the community, up to and including Dec. 31 from its Affordable Housing Fund to a maximum value of $15,000. — Nelson CARES Society Facebook Page

The Room to Live campaign will be receiving a public cash infusion as one of the city’s premier social housing groups has gained city support for its multi-million dollar low-income housing project.

The city approved a contribution to the 2017 Nelson CARES Society Room to Live Campaign with funds to match those being raised by the community, up to and including Dec. 31 from its Affordable Housing Fund to a maximum value of $15,000.

At the July 25 Nelson Housing Committee (NHC) meeting Nelson CARES Society asked the city for money — up to $15,000 as a matching grant donor towards the 2017 Room to Live Campaign.

That request and motion passed by the NHC at a special meeting held on August 29, but it required council to decide upon the request for it to be realized.

In its request to council the Nelson Housing Committee noted the significant community contribution levels made to date and that the 2017 request is for up to $15,000.

The balance in the city’s Affordable Housing Fund currently stands at approximately $41,000 with an outstanding 2017 contribution (between $30,000 and $40,000) still pending.

With the slogan, “Affordable Living One Room At a Time,” Nelson Cares has undertaken a project to renovate 45 units in Ward Street Place, one of the only low-income housing blocks in Nelson and region.

“It is home to people living in poverty and those who have escaped homelessness,” noted the Nelson CARES website page on the project.

The Room to Live campaign, launched in 2014, will try to renovate each unit of the 105-year-old building — at a cost of about $15,000 per unit — along with major upgrades already performed to the electrical and fire safety systems and building structure.

With government and corporate donations providing $2.2 million of the $2.9 million funding amount needed, Nelson CARES Society set a goal to raise the remaining $690,000 through community fundraising. About $45,000 of that remains to be raised, just seven per cent of the total project cost.

Already the project has renovated 26 rooms, with only 19 remaining.

It is expected that the donation will assist the four-year Room to Live Project draw to its close in 2017 and is a “win-win for Nelson CARES Society, the city and those in need of the upgraded units,” read a city staff report to council.

This is the second time the city has supported the project. An amount of $15,000 was granted by council to the 2014 Room to Live Campaign from the Affordable Housing Fund — paid in early 2015.

The NHC noted that the public phase of the campaign will wrap up on Nov. 3 with a performance by the Kootenay Divas at the Capitol Theatre, although the ‘dollar-for-dollar’ matching grant fundraising initiative will continue through to Dec. 31.

Kootenay unemployment rate highest in province

The unemployment rate in the Kootenay region is the highest in the province, despite B.C. enjoying the second lowest unemployment rate among provinces in Canada.

The Kootenay region saw a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.7 per cent in August, up from 7.5 per cent in July. The local rate has remained just above or slightly below seven per cent for 2017, with August’s showing matching its highest this year.

However, despite the jump in August, last year the unemployment rate for the region was 8.0, with a high for the year in October at 9.2 per cent.

Across the province as a whole the unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent in August — down from 5.3 per cent in July and below the 5.5 per cent it was 12 months ago.

Compared to July, the labour force in B.C. declined (-8,400), with the number of unemployed falling (-7,200), and a slight reduction in employment (-1,200). Over the past 12 months, job growth (+92,300) outpaced the growth in the labour force (+84,900).

Compared to July, there were 27,400 more part-time jobs in the province, and 28,600 fewer full-time jobs. Full-time jobs decreased for both workers aged 15 to 24 years (‑14,400 or -7.3 per cent) and 25 to 54 years of age (-13,700 or –one per cent).

On the other hand, part-time employment grew mainly for those aged 25 to 54 years of age (+22,700 or +10.6 per cent), compared to growth for those aged 15 to 24 years (+2,000 or +1.2 per cent).

In August, employment in the public (-3,300) and private (-6,700) sectors diminished, while the number of self-employed individuals increased (+8,700).