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

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

Advance polling begins on Oct. 15, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting in Houston begins today

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Six Mile Beach outside Nelson is known for its perfect sand, clear water and unique sand spit. But the drowning death of a man in July has residents asking if the dangerous spot has become too popular. Photo: David Grantham/Kootenay Drone Services
Dangerous oasis: The fatal history of a popular Kootenay Lake beach

Six Mile Beach near Nelson is known for its unique sand spit. But locals have feared it for decades

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The final result of British Columbia’s provincial election won’t be known for at least two weeks because more than 700-thousand mail-in ballots have to be counted by hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s snap election means 700k ballots will be counted manually, delaying results

Elections BC spokesman said employees in 87 electoral districts will count mail-in ballots one by one

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

Canada continues to climb toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

Most Read