With the change in housing regulations, there are understandably lots of questions about the changes. Huu-ay-aht First Nations will maintain an ongoing list of questions and answers as they come up. If you have questions, you can direct them to rentalhousing@huuayaht.org.

Why the change? Council has worked over the past several months to update Huu-ay-aht First Nations housing regulations and practices. This has been partially driven by the requirements of the agencies that have provided funding for housing construction. Using these grants that have been made available is the only way that the new housing has been constructed and we must follow their requirements.

What happened to the old Social Housing Regulation? When the new Rental Housing Regulation (RHR) was approved by Council, the old Social Housing Regulation was repealed, and is no longer in force. We no longer use a scoring system.

What is the Rental Housing Regulation, and what does it mean? The new RHR is largely based on the provincial Residential Tenancy Act, with some modifications from the Social Housing Regulation. One key part of this is the establishment of a Housing Society which in the future will manage all rental housing at arms length from the government. This Society is currently being developed and we hope to have it in place by the summer. In the meantime, the management of housing remains with the Government.

How will the Housing Society work? The Housing Society, likely with a different name, will manage all Huu-ay-aht First Nations rental units. While Huu-ay-aht First Nations will retain ownership of the rental units, the Society will manage all aspects of the rental units, including collecting rents, maintaining units and if necessary, enforce evictions. The Society will have a Board to direct the Society and citizens will have the ability to elect some of the Directors. More information on the Society will be available as we move forward.

How are rents set? The principle change is the use of setting market rents for units, based on 80% of the costs in Port Alberni. However, all Huu-ay-aht First Nation units are designated as being “affordable” which means that rents are based on 30% of the household incomes of all adults living in the unit. The market rent sets the maximum amount of rent, but the actual rent is based on household income. That’s why we are asking for tenants to provide their 2020 tax information. As an example, if the comparable rent in Port Alberni is $900 for a 2-bedroom apartment, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations market rent is $720. If a tenant has an income of $25,000, then 30% of that is
$625 and that will be the monthly rental payment. Note that rents may be changed throughout the year if household incomes increase or decrease, and we will be tracking this on an ongoing basis. 6. What about those on Social Assistance? Starting April 1, all rents for those on Social Assistance will be paid directly to the Society rather than through tenants.

Why do I have to sign a new Rental Agreement when I am already in a unit? The new Rental Agreement is largely the same as you would be signing with any other landlord and is based on the Residential Tenancy Act. We are asking for all current and new tenants to first complete the Rental Housing Application, which will provide us with the information we need to do future planning as well as to allocate available rental units.

I’m currently in a unit, will I be moving? Nearly all current tenants will be staying where they are. We will have some moves to provide better options for those in need. Rents will be evaluated in the next few weeks, but we don’t expect to be increasing rents by a significant amount.

When will the new units be available? We are expecting the new units will be ready over the next week or so, although they may not be occupied for a period of time.

Are their more units being built? Yes, Huu-ay-aht First Nations is working on a new agreement with BC Housing to construct eight more units which will be constructed over the summer with availability next spring. These will be two and three bedroom units in a four plex and duplex.