Renae Podgorney said she’s been “held hostage” by a lack of rentals. The mother of two has been living out of a hotel room for the past year. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Renae Podgorney said she’s been “held hostage” by a lack of rentals. The mother of two has been living out of a hotel room for the past year. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

‘It’s a nightmare’: Northern B.C. family desperate after living in hotel for a year

Renae Podgorney says because of a lack of rentals, she’s now applying to rent a one-bedroom unit

A person’s home is their castle, but for some Quesnel residents, like Renae Podgorney, the search for her own castle has been gruelling.

The mother of two is on disability and has been living at the Grace Inn for nearly a year.

“We’ve been stuck in a hotel for 11 months in a single room,” she said. “I got held hostage here. I have FASD [Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder]. I’ve been struggling.”

Rental units in Quesnel are hard to come by no matter what the situation. Podgorney said she’s viewed 10 places on her quest to find a place, but each room she’s viewed had at least 150 applicants.

Tanya Turner, Quesnel’s director of development services, said she wasn’t surprised to hear people are struggling, noting she’s heard from all kinds of people scrambling to find housing.

“I’m going to be very interested what our next population stats are,” she said. “It seems like there’s a lot more people.”

Quesnel will be releasing a new housing plan later this year.

The city’s health care recruitment co-ordinator, Beverlee Barr, works to find rental units for new health care workers. In a presentation to the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District, she said Quesnel’s rental vacancy rate is nearly zero per cent.

The city even holds a property year round that new health care workers can live in before finding a place.

Mary Charlotte is the property manager at an apartment building with more than 20 units.

“A good rental is hard to find,” she said. “I don’t normally have many empties or any units sitting for long — maybe for maintenance or cleaning, but my units get rented fast.”

Charlotte has been the property manager at the building for six years.

“I do think that it’s been harder with COVID-19 — not as many people are moving,” she said. “But I think the turn over has been about the same over the last few years.”

Turner said a number of housing initiatives stopped because of COVID-19, adding the city is working hard to attract developers to Quesnel, but finding someone to develop the right kind of building in 2020 is proving to be a challenge.

“[Developers] want to come in here and do a 100-unit building,” Turner said. “You really need to think about the infrastructure that would need to change there. The 12- to 20-unit buildings are what we need.”

Turner said other population centres in the area, like Prince George, are facing similar problems.

READ MORE: Rental vacancy rates last year hit lowest since 2002 after third year of decline

“I moved here 20-some years ago, and back then, we really had to scrounge for apartments,” she said. “It got way better for a while, and now it seems to have gone again.”

Any solutions and new buildings might be too late for people like Podgorney, who is now so desperate to find her own place that she’s trying to rent one-bedroom apartments just to have her own place.

“I’ve gone through so much, I’m just at my limit,” she said. “From deaths in family and not being able to afford to go, to my son falling behind from lack of help … It’s a nightmare I’m living.”

READ MORE: Quesnel council moving forward with bylaw to enforce rental standards

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

rental marketRentals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP are investigating a reported assault at Panorama Ridge Secondary. (Shane MacKichan photos)
UPDATE: Two youths arrested after assault with a weapon at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey

School placed on a ‘hold and secure’ until safety of all students confirmed

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Image Surrey.ca
Surrey to pony up one-third of cost to cover Cloverdale lacrosse box in 2022

This will be at the Cloverdale Athletic Park at 64th Avenue and 168th Street

Delta Mayor George Harvie. (Submitted photo)
Mayor asks Fraser Health to reconcider North Delta vaccination site

Harvie wants a North Delta clinic to complement the South Delta location

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Murder conviction upheld in case where Surrey mom was stabbed in front of her kids

Jury in 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, aka Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in 2007 death of Amanpreet Bahia, 33

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on October 27, 2020. The City of Vancouver says it has purchased a former hotel at a major thoroughfare that can house about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. A joint news release by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and city says 2075 Kingsway, Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver, will be ready for accommodation this November. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen also announced a $51.5 million Rapid Housing Initiative for Vancouver that is expected to create 135 new affordable homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former Vancouver hotel to be converted to 65 units for homeless people by the fall

The former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Most Read