New housing registry opens for Fort McMurray evacuees

Finding a temporary home could now be a click away for people displaced by the wildfire in Fort McMurray.

Rentcafe.ca connects landlords with displaced Fort McMurray residents

An online housing registry has been set up to help link landlords with vacant rental properties with evacuees from Fort McMurray. (CBC)

Finding a temporary home could now be a click away for people displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Capital Region Housing Corporation, the City of Edmonton, the Alberta Residential Landlord Association and Yardi Canada Ltd. have come together and produced a central housing registry through RentCafe.

"Home is essential to moving forward, and we are here to help families find home again," said Greg Dewling, CEO of Capital Region Housing Corporation.
An online housing registry, through Rentcafe.ca, has been set up to help Fort McMurray residents displaced by the wildfire find housing. (CBC)

The registry will allow evacuees to search for accommodations, and landlords to post accommodation information, Dewling said.

A person who logs onto the site today, he said, could probably move into the property tomorrow.

Many landlords who have already registered are offering incentives, such as free rent for a month, and reduced deposits, he said. 

Home is essential to moving forward.- Greg Dewling, CEO of Capital Region Housing Corporation

The hope is the registry will help displaced families quickly find "a temporary place to call home," Dewling said.

CRHC is working with the province to find ways to assist those who need help paying rent, much in the same way the government did after the 2011 fire in Slave Lake, and floods in southern Alberta.

Putting the registry together was an international effort completed in under 72 hours, said Peter Altobelli, vice-president and general manager for Yardi Canada.

The company pulled together staff in its offices in Canada, the United States, India and Romania.

"We were able to draw these people together ... develop the concepts, present the concepts within 24 hours, have their software written in the next 24 hours, tested and then ready for deployment," Atobelli said.
Yardi Canada pulled together an international team of staff to create and launch the housing registry in under 72 hours, says Peter Altobelli. (CBC)

Landlords have been able to register on the site since Friday. The site was made available to evacuees Monday morning.

"As of last night, we had 1,000 units up on the site," Atobelli said. "And I was just on the phone with my office and that number has doubled since 8 a.m. this morning."

The registry service is being offered by Yardi Canada Ltd. for six months, free of charge. The company typically charges to list rental properties on RentCafe.

Dewling expects the needs of most people to be covered in the next three months.

CRHC hopes to track those who use the central system to evaluate how well it has worked, he said.