A nonprofit organization has plans to develop 78 units of affordable housing on De Wolf Way for Merrittonians seeking accommodation priced below market level.

Before shovels hit the ground, Anhart Community Homes conducted an online survey to identify housing needs in the community.

The results are in, and of the nearly 400 people who completed the survey, 45 per cent said they have not been able to find the housing they need in town.

Fifty-six per cent of responders said Merritt needs rental apartments, and 54 per cent favoured rental houses (responders were able to select more than one answer).

When asked what kind of accommodation people would need if they were renting, two-bedroom units was the post popular answer at 39 per cent. When asked how much they would be prepared to pay for rent, $500 to $800 was the most popular answer at 35 per cent.

“All of this information is really helpful to us in identifying the need, the groups of people that are looking [for housing],” said Marcie Good, communications officer with Anhart.“It shows people are really interested in affordable housing.”

Seniors stand out as a local population in need of more housing options, Good told the Herald, as well as people with pets. She added a lot of survey participants said they live in unaffordable or overcrowded places.

“[People are just not] able to find safe, good, affordable housing,” she said.

To help remedy the situation, Anhardt purchased a 4.2-acre site on De Wolf Way back in in July, which is the planned site for two buildings housing 78 units.

The exact design and unit makeup could change, Good explained, as the organization is currently waiting to hear back regarding a funding application.

There is “always a gap” between revenue covering expenses from the mortgage and the lower rent they want to offer, Good said, but the organization has applied for financing from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which provides long-term mortgages based on rents of 10 per cent below market level.

Should Anhart receive funding, the organization will begin applying for the necessary permits through the city and could start construction as early as this year.

This is Anhart’s first housing project in the Nicola Valley.