'I don't know what we're going to do': Merritt residents displaced by apartment fire unable to find new homes

'I don't know what we're going to do': Merritt residents displaced by apartment fire unable to find new homes

An apartment fire at Kengard Manor in Merritt, March 16, forced 58 people out of their homes and with the tight rental market in the city, it's unlikely any of them will be able to find an affordable rental.

Claudette Edenoste, a real estate broker in Merritt, says the vacancy rate in Merritt is "next to zero."

"We feel really bad about the people that are displaced," she said.

Edenoste says there are rentals available in surrounding areas, like Logan Lake, but people who work and have family in Merritt would have to be comfortable with travelling to town.

Real estate agents are looking for investors to purchase homes in Merritt and offer them up as rental properties, but at this point, there's little that can be done to remedy the real estate situation, Edenoste says.

ASK Wellness in Merritt is also working to find homes for those displaced by the fire but have also experienced some trouble finding housing in the town.

"We have been forced to rehouse some of these people in Logan Lake or Kamloops," said Stacy Wormell-Street co-director of operations at ASK Wellness in Merritt. .

'Everything is gone'

Marilyn and Bill Jager were among the residents who lost their apartment to the fire. They had no insurance and lost everything.

"We went over to the building the other day and everything is gone," Marylin said.

"They didn't save [anything]."

Right now, the Jagers are staying with family, and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help rebuild what they lost.

"We're still looking for a place of our own," she added. She says she and her husband are not able to consider purchasing a home at this time.

While she says she and her husband have viewed a few rentals, nothing has been suitable for what they need.

"Rents are expensive," Marilyn said.

"I thought we were bad up in the apartment, but it's even worse when you get out of there, and it's not worth it, the places that we did see."

"I don't know what we're going to do."

With files from Tara Copeland and Daybreak Kamloops