Reported by Lena Alsayegh
The affordable 1960s apartment building at 7350 Fraser St. has been rezoned to make way for upscale condos, leaving its current residents with no place to go.
Where will they go now?
Shazia Usmani moved to the apartments after her previous building burned down. After spending three weeks homeless, she found the Fraser residence a safe haven.
“This is a great place for me,” said Usmani. “I went through heck and I came here and my balcony had these big blue flowers hanging over. I was like, is this real?”
The 22 units were slated for demolition by the city at a Sept. 16 public hearing and will be replaced a new development containing 95 units. Monthly rent is expected to increase by an average $635 from the current $714. Tenants fear this will be out of their price range, despite a proposed 20 per cent rent reduction for current residents.
Reductions not enough
For Usmani, the reductions are not enough. “It seems like we’re being moved along with no regard to the fact that this is a great place for low income people, transitional people, such as myself,” Usmani said.
Councillor Geoff Meggs said proper procedures have been followed and that while they will be facing higher costs, efforts have been made to keep the development affordable.
“The city has no legal ability to withhold development approval if the owner has followed all the rules,” Meggs said.
Many residents ‘disabled and elderly’
Usmani explained that many of her fellow residents are disabled and elderly. They have a hard time with mobility so alternative housing options for them are scarce. “This is where they’re basically wanting to plan to die,” said Usmani.
“As dilapidated as it is, this place renewed my spirits. I think that’s the spirit that we should promote in Vancouver: when you’re down and out there’s still a chance for you to get your confidence back and get on your feet,” Usmani said.
Construction on the new development is expected to begin early next year.