A small non-profit group has come up with a creative solution to a critical housing shortage.
It’s moving old, unwanted houses out of a Victoria suburb to where they’re needed, but the homes aren’t staying in B.C.
So far, seven Vancouver Island homes have been transported by barge across the Haro Strait to the San Juan Islands in Washington state, where a shortage of affordable housing has left many struggling to make ends meet.
“The area resale home price here is about $494,000, that’s a couple of hundred thousand dollars more than the state average,” Nancy DeVaux of the San Juan Community Home Trust said.
Thanks to a combination of donated land and government and local funding, homes can cost as little as $160,000 USD.
READ MORE: Demolishing a home in Richmond could soon cost you more
DeVaux said the Victoria homes “have a lot of character and charm and were built with solid bones and old-growth timber, so we were really excited to be able to take advantage of those features.”
Relocating homes is becoming increasingly popular in B.C. since the province tightened guidelines around sorting materials and disposing of them, driving the cost of demolition upwards of $40,000.
As for keeping the homes in B.C. and using them to address the province’s affordable housing crisis, that’s not likely to happen.
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said it all comes back to land values.
“The land costs have to be very low or zero wherever you’re moving it to in order to make this affordable housing,” he said.
So far, five more homes are heading south of the border and a wait-list of prospective buyers is growing.
– With files from Kylie Stanton