Seniors who were left homeless following the fatal April 12 fire at a Langley City subsidized housing complex will not have to sleep on cots in group lodging.
The idea was originally proposed last week by the Langley Lions Seniors Housing Society, which runs the Rainbow Lodge complex.
But since then, the Lions have found some of the displaced residents alternative housing, either in hotel rooms or moving them into vacant units within the large housing complex, said Lions Society administrator Jeannette Dagenais.
“Eleven from the south wing are at the West Country, four others are at various other hotels, paid for by BC Housing,” she said.
At least three are moving to assisted living and three to five displaced residents will be moving to rental units within Rainbow Lodge.
They are hoping more vacancies will come up in May. Another 11 are staying with family or friends.
Dagenais said the society has also converted some of the lounges within the buildings into suites.
They went to Ikea and bought beds, which will be for each resident to keep no matter where they go, Dagenais said.
Finding accommodations for 60 residents isn’t easy, and not everyone is being helped yet, she said.
“We are helping people on a one-on-one basis, but the Red Cross is here Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to also help work on housing options.”
During an all-candidates meeting last Wednesday, incumbent Rich Coleman, minister of housing, told the crowd of seniors that as far as he knew the fire victims would be housed in the now-empty Quality Inn beside the Home Depot.
BC Housing had purchased that hotel several months ago.
But Dagenais said the Quality Inn has never been presented as an option.
Coleman was asked to clarify his comments.
Following a meeting held with residents on Saturday, BC Housing learned that “there is no immediate need to open the Quality Inn,” Coleman responded to the Times query.
However, he did add that the Quality Inn is being prepared in the event additional units are necessary.
The Lions are hopeful residents in the south wing of the burned building will be able to return to their homes in a few weeks. But in the north wing, where the fire erupted in a third floor apartment, the 30-plus residents won’t be able to return for around a year.
High-pressure hoses used to douse the fire disturbed asbestos in the building, meaning further repair work was required.
One man died in the fire, which Langley City Fire Rescue have confirmed was started by a carelessly discarded cigarette.