Edmonton

Affordable housing tenants from Fort McMurray get rent break

Some Fort McMurray evacuees are getting a break on rent from the Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation while they’re unable to return to their homes.

The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation promises all tenants will have homes to return to

This burned-out van in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood was photographed during a media tour of the fire-damaged city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on May 9, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Some Fort McMurray evacuees are getting a break on rent while they're out of their homes.

The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation plans to provide rent relief to its tenants for the duration of the evacuation.

The relief will apply to rent for May and June, at a minimum, the organization said.

"Though the law states we are legally entitled to collect rents, even during such a terrible disaster, the board felt strongly we had a moral obligation not to impose additional hardship upon our tenants who have already suffered so much," board chair Maggie Farrington said in a statement.

The affordable housing organization provides homes for people with low and modest incomes.

WBHD promised all its Fort McMurray tenants will have homes to return to when the evacuation order lifts, even though the wildfire destroyed the organization's townhome units in Beacon Hill and a housing complex in Timberlea.

WBHD recently announced 385 unfurnished units would be available by June 1 to evacuees who lost homes in the fire. The organization said finding homes for existing tenants will the first priority.

The province plans to cover the cost of rents for WBHD's social housing units and seniors-lodge, which makes up about 10 per cent of the organization's rental properties.

The board hopes the rest of the cost will be covered through insurance and federal and provincial disaster relief funds.

now