Wednesday March 25, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Province and city are coming together on the homelessness file. BC in partnership with the City of Victoria — through four supportive housing projects — will be providing 192 homes with 24/7 wraparound supports for people experiencing homelessness.
“As we work with the city to respond to the homelessness crisis in Victoria, we haven’t lost sight of our shared goal – permanent homes for people without homes,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing in a release today. He called the new buildings part of “ongoing work with the City of Victoria and our community partners to make sure people experiencing homelessness will have access to a safe, secure place to live with the supports they need to succeed”.
When vulnerable people have good housing, they can access health care, addiction and mental health treatment, and skills training to help rebuild their lives. Housing people results in safer communities for everyone.”
Spread around the city:
“Not in my backyard” (NIMBY) is always a concern in community planning when new types of housing are introduced by developers (which in this case is the government).
The four new permanent supportive housing projects are spread around into various neighbourhoods around the City of Victoria. They will be built at the following properties in the city, which have been purchased by the Province through BC Housing (approximate number of homes):
- 865 Catherine St (Victoria West area), 45 homes: construction is expected to start in summer 2021.
- 959 and 953 Balmoral Rd (North Park area), 60 homes: construction is expected to start in winter 2021.
- 1053 and 1075 Meares St (downtown core / Quadra area), 50 homes: construction is expected to start in summer 2021.
- 1176 Yates St (Fernwood area), 37 homes: construction is expected to start in summer 2021.
“We are grateful that the Province continues to show their commitment to housing solutions in our city and our region,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. She identified partners in the purpose-built housing initiative which she highlights as “the pathway out of homelessness”.
Six projects in all:
These four projects are in addition to the two supportive housing projects in Central Saanich and Saanich that were announced by the federal and provincial governments, and the Capital Regional District (CRD). These six projects will deliver more than 280 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in the capital region.
To get these homes built as soon as possible, BC Housing will be moving straight to the construction phase with these projects, working closely with municipalities throughout the process, it was stated in today’s BC Government release.
People to be housed in these new projects have mostly been from the tent communities that sprung up in downtown Victoria in the past few years (including at Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue in the heart of downtown).
Operating the new housing projects:
Experienced non-profit housing providers will be selected to operate the housing. They will provide 24/7 support, including daily meals, access to life-skills training, employment assistance and counselling, physical and mental health resources, and access to addiction recovery services through Island Health.
BC Housing will host a series of community engagement sessions with stakeholders, community members and local businesses in the near future. Engagement details will be shared on BC Housing’s Let’s Talk Housing page: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/capital-region
MLAs in the region weigh in:
- Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill says: “Our government is working with all our partners to provide short-term and long-term supportive housing so that no one is forced to live outdoors. The announcement today is an important step for our community and to ensure care for those who need it most. I am grateful for the collaboration with the City of Victoria that has made this possible.”
- Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake says: “The need for new supportive housing in Victoria is clear. These new homes with 24/7 wraparound supports will support health and safety and make a real difference for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and for our entire community.”