Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The search begins for shelter for the Inlander's residents

With much of the talk around the Inlander suggesting that it's days as resident hotel are behind it, the push now is on to try and find some form of housing for the former residents of the downtown hotel/apartments.

Last week's fire forced the few locals that called the building home to begin the search for a new place to live, a process that social service officials suggest will be a struggle to do on a long term basis.

The Inlander had become a refuge of last resort for many and with it's closure and the debate over its future set to begin, those former residents now must move on to a new and unfamiliar routine for their days.

The Daily News sought out a few of the former residents for their thoughts on the demise of their old home, providing some background on the state of housing for those on the unseen side of the city's rental process.

Residents look back at the Inlander
Building hit by fire was home to many during the city's long history
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, February 09, 2009

Pages one and five

After being damaged by fire last week, the Inlander may have seen its final days.
For some in Prince Rupert that is a sad fact. For others, who have complained that it is an eyesore, that may be a blessing.

While some Rupertites may have begrudged the existence of the building, others have valued it and the shelter it has provided and for its residents, it has simply been home.
For one Rupertite it has been home for a long time.

It was a home for lifetime Rupert resident Donald Hill, 38, since 1984 when he moved in. Back then, he said, the place was hard to heat, much to his landlord's dismay.

"When I first moved in, there was only cold water in my room and the landlord did all he could to fix it but there was nothing he could do," said Hill. Later, Hill moved to another room and has been located on the third floor since.

Hill is unemployed and on welfare. He admits that his situation is much of his own doing.
He used to work in the Atlin Fishery Plant until it closed down in 1986 and he has not worked steady since but he has returned to school in the meantime, finishing Grade 8 math and says he is filling out paperwork to begin courses at Hecate Strait.

Hill says he'll miss his home if it is condemned.

Inside, he has a picture of the time he met Bobby Hull at Zellers a few years ago.

"That's my most prized possession," said Hill.

He also has a stack of 200 VHS tapes of movies and Rock'n"Roll concerts and his 25-inch TV he would like to get back before any decision is made.

But Hill has not been left completely alone, individuals in the community have stepped up to help out.

Emergency Services BC came forward for those affected by the fire, donating $200 for each of the six people who had been left without a home.

The money was to be used for clothing purposes, none more important than the underwear and socks Hill had already purchased with the money by Thursday afternoon.

And the money was also meant for accommodation at a hotel - which would normally last three days but because of the All-Native Basketball Tournament other accommodation had to be found.

For now, Hill will be staying at the Salvation Army shelter, according to Capt. Gary Sheils.
Two Inlander inhabitants have been given accommodation with BC Housing, two have found their own accommodation, one is with family and Hill is being housed temporarily at the shelter.

But Sheils worried about the long-term future for those who have not found stable accommodation.

"These people are hard to house and so it's going to be difficult to find long-term accommodation for them but we are going to try," added Sheils.

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