Kenyon shuts the door on Yukon Housing vacancy

Housing Minister Jim Kenyon knows there are 30 empty rooms at the former athlete's village.

Housing Minister Jim Kenyon knows there are 30 empty rooms at the former athlete’s village.

He also knows affordable housing is hard to come by in Whitehorse – it’s spelled very clearly in the Whitehorse Housing Adequacy Study released by his government just before Christmas.

The report found 43 per cent of people surveyed felt their housing choices were extremely limited. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said it was hard to find affordable rental accommodations and half said it was very hard to find any vacancies.

Despite this, Kenyon is not interested in turning the empty rooms at the athlete’s village into affordable housing units.

These rooms “have no bathrooms,” he said in the house on Thursday. “They have a common one down the hallway.

“They have no kitchens; there are no restaurants in the area and no shopping centres in the area, other than the cafeteria at the college.”

At the end of February, the Roadhouse Inn is closing, leaving 23 low-income tenants homeless.

Many of the rooms at the Roadhouse also share a common bathroom down the hallway.

The Roadhouse rooms don’t have kitchens.

And they’re a far cry from the fresh paint and new carpeting that grace the empty rooms at the athlete’s village.

Yukon Housing policy and communications director JoAnne Harach did not know what it would take to bring the empty rooms at the athlete’s village up to code for residence.

“I am not a technical person so I can’t tell you exactly,” said Harach.

“We have not looked at that.”

But Kenyon seemed to know.

“The types of windows that are in there are totally against building code,” he said in the house.

“They would block egress and access for firefighters and the ability for tenants to get out.”

Yukon Housing did not know what it would cost to bring the rooms up to code, said Harach.

“My own feeling is it would be cost prohibitive,” she said.

But Yukon Housing hasn’t done any studies, said Harach.

And Kenyon couldn’t explain why.

“I will repeat again, these rooms are not to code,” he said.

And could they be brought up to code, to help alleviate Whitehorse’s affordable housing crisis?

“That is not a reasonable solution,” said Kenyon. (Genesee Keevil)