02/26/2014 08:46 EST | Updated 04/28/2014 05:59 EDT

Terrace, Kitimat low-income residents being 'renovicted'

Rental housing in northern B.C. communities with booming resource economies is becoming increasingly scarce, something poverty advocates claim is driving low-income tenants out of their homes.

Advocates say "renovictions" occur when landlords evict tenants to renovate their units and ultimately increase rent.

Advertisements for one renovated suite in Kitimat show rental rate for the property jumped to $3,200 a month, up from $425 a month only a year and a half ago.

Kitimat housing worker Anne Moyles said there are many people being evicted for improvements to their suites, who are then unable to find affordable housing in town.

"They put all their belongings in storage and they're squeezing up, either with friends or family, hoping that this is a temporary discomfort and down the road there will be opportunity."

Moyles said people are leaving the community because affordable housing is so difficult to find.

"Some people have left. Not because they wanted to, simply because there's nowhere for them to go," she said.

Terrace city councillor and poverty advocate Stacey Tyers said she has been overwhelmed by complaints from people who say they have been pushed out of their homes.

"It is getting to the point where my resources are being taxed. I'm only one person, and it's happening everywhere."

Tyers said she fears the situation may only get worse, because several liquefied natural gas projects are proposed for the region.

A housing forum is planned for next month to address the so-called "renovictions."