Fourteen Saskatchewan municipalities have expressed interest in buying low-income and seniors’ housing units that the Ministry of Social Services is considering selling off.
The province is looking to get rid of units that are “chronically vacant” — with a vacancy rate of 50 per cent or higher — in communities with a population of 300 or less.
The ministry said last week it is in talks with municipalities and local housing authorities “to discuss opportunities for them” in regards to the properties.
Some units could be used for nurses, teachers
The province has now confirmed three municipalities have expressed a strong interest in purchasing units from the province, and eleven are “considering their options.”
Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said in a news conference last week she has heard from municipalities that are interested in using the units to attract nurse practitioners or teachers.
“There may be businesses that are interested in some of the units, and so these conversations are a way of making sure that we are constantly trying to serve those in the greatest need,” she said.
“If there is a decision that the municipality does not want to purchase the units, or doesn’t have a different use for them, then we will look towards putting those units on the private market.”
The ministry said it could not provide a list of the names of those municipalities, or the names of communities where units were being considered for sale, until after meetings with other municipalities.
Lemberg buildings could be sold
It has confirmed that two buildings in Lemberg, Sask. were among those being considered for sale.
A total of 16 units could be sold between the two buildings for low-income and seniors’ housing, which are managed by the Lemberg Housing Authority.
The province said not all 16 units were considered chronically vacant but 50 per cent of them were not occupied on June 1, 2017.
It added that any buyer would need to agree not to evict existing tenants as a condition of sale. It said they could not be evicted by any change of ownership under the “better use policy,” and that rental rates would not change.
But some Saskatchewan residents are unhappy the buildings could be sold, saying some senior residents do not understand what is happening.
The Town of Lemberg is holding a public meeting at 2 p.m. CST on Aug. 9 at the Lemberg Manor building to discuss the possible sale of the two buildings.