Sudbury's downtown will soon lose a rooming house and gain a parking lot.

Dalron Construction bought the empty apartment building located at 7 Pine St.

Under the previous owner, the rooming house offered cheap rent and served as unofficial low-income housing for about 40 people.

John Arnold, a manager with Dalron, said the building is unsanitary and unsafe and needs to be torn down.

"We actually took a look at the building as a development opportunity, the existing structure. But after going into it, and seeing the condition of the property, it was not a building that could be renovated."

The company is hoping to create about 38 parking spaces on the flattened lot to ease a parking shortage in the downtown area, Arnold said.

7 Pine St.

Squalid conditions inside a Sudbury rooming house. A developer is demolishing the building to make way for a parking lot. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

"I do know firsthand that parking is an issue. We've got approximately 8,000-10,000 square feet of vacant office space that I can't rent because I have no parking spaces to give."

In the future, the company may construct a commercial building on the lot, Arnold said.

Lack of social housing

While the apartment building was in dire condition, two months ago it provided affordable rooms for more than 40 people.

In April, tenants were told by the owner that the building was being sold, and they had until July to move out.

Joseph Keysis was one of the last tenants to leave the building.

"I felt unsure and worried, because I didn't know where to go. Worried that I'd have to move out of town with no money," he said.

Keysis is now staying at the Salvation Army shelter, and many more like him are also in need, said Wandra Beaudry, a case manager for homeless people at the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre.

The group referred people to the rooming house for years because, despite less-than-ideal conditions, a room was seen as a step in the right direction, Beaudry said.

"Now we're forcing individuals out of their accommodations. So, literally, where does the city think these individuals are going to go?" she said.

"You're going to see more panhandling, you're going to see a lot more homelessness."

Sudbury needs a plan for more low-income housing, Beaudry added.