Birchwood Terrace residents on edge as support set to run out next month

After a shocking and abrupt evacuation, former residents of a St. James apartment building are facing a new hurdle.

Room and board support provided by the Canadian Red Cross to the roughly 250 former residents of Birchwood Terrace is set to expire Saturday, meaning those forced to live in hotels could be facing homelessness for the second time in less than a month.

The province is telling tenants not to worry and that support will continue, but it hasn’t provided any other details.

The complex was evacuated earlier this month over concerns the building could collapse.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, residents say they are tired of being left in the dark.

Judi Stanley and her family lived at the Portage Avenue complex for ten years.

“What we did get out with we had in the backseat of our truck, and the truck got broken into. They smashed out the back window and stole the belongings in the back of the truck,” she said.

Stanley said while security concerns are top of mind, another worry is losing financial support from the Canadian Red Cross while she’s forced to stay out of her apartment.

“We were told we have till June 1, and then that coverage ends then. We haven’t been updated on anything else.”

It’s a frustration felt by Paul Beaudet who moved into Birchwood Terrace less than two months before everything unfolded.

“It feels like they did me dirty,” he laughed.

Beaudet said the updates provided by property owner Ladco Company Limited seem meaningless to him.

“They’re basically just saying they have nothing to share with us at this time.”

Residents who live behind the building are also looking for answers.

They received an evacuation alert from the city on May 9, and were advised to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice because of what was happening with Birchwood Terrace.

“(We) try to live our life normally, but we have things ready that are essential that we’ll take with us if we have to,” Jan Pedersen said.

A provincial spokesperson tells CTV News Winnipeg the government will provide more details in the coming days, including information about “some kind of support” for evacuees beyond June 1.

Meantime, CTV News Winnipeg asked Ladco for any updates on the building and whether residents will be able to retrieve the rest of their belongings, but the company did not respond.

After everything that’s happened, Stanley has very little hope left.

“My hope is that we get our stuff back and move on.”

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