The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is aiming for big results with its long-awaited Community Plan, released Tuesday.
The five-year plan outlines how to use the $60 million in regional and municipal funding to permanently house 441 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness through better service integration while prioritizing individuals based on need, and in co-operation with the Regional Housing First Program and other partners.
In brief, the report says the region should take the first important steps toward ensuring all individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in the Capital Region have access to safe, affordable, appropriate, long-term housing options along with the support needed to sustain it. The Phase 1 report relies on the coalition’s 2015 study, Creating Homes, Enhancing Communities (CHEC), as a framework, estimating 367 to 479 individuals in the region experience chronic homelessness.
The plan was approved by the CRD finance committee, which includes Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell and Couns. Susan Brice, Vic Derman and Colin Plant, at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I think it’s a great way to move on, it will make a big difference with this five-year plan,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders, who is on the coalition’s board of directors. “It’s a great value to the community. The goal is still to eliminate homelessness in 2018, which may not be possible, but it’s close, we’re eventually getting to that point.”
So far in 2106 the province has acquired several facilities for housing, all within the borders of Victoria, spending $6.5 million on the 50-unit Super 8 Motel on Douglas Street, $11 million on the 140-unit Central Care Home on Johnson Street, and $3.65 million on the 40-unit Mount Edwards Court Care Home on Vancouver Street. There was also 50 shelter units opened at the Victoria Youth Custody Centre.
In addition, there are two more housing projects coming online soon in Saanich, both of which were once priorities for the coalition, the 45-unit Cottage Grove (3207 Quadra St.) supportive housing for seniors at risk of homelessness, and the 41-unit Rosalie’s Village (4349 West Saanich Rd.) for at-risk moms with children and older women who are also at-risk or experiencing homelessness.
The immediate steps for the Community Plan are to house 175 chronically homeless people in Greater Victoria using existing supportive housing, and better service integration and client prioritization. It also calls on 133 new units for supported housing of individuals and another 133 new units for affordable housing for individuals looking to exit supportive housing. The latter two would be organized in part with the Regional Housing First Program, which puts individuals into housing regardless of what addictions they suffer, and permits drug and alcohol use with a strategy of providing additional resources and support once the individuals are housed.
The plan will go to the CRD board on Sept. 14.
“The fact is this has a clear path, the objectives are there. It’s not a case of, what’s the flavour of the month, it’s a true plan,” Sanders said. “I don’t know what Phase 2 would be in five years, but hopefully Phase 2 would not solely be about creating [units] to get homeless off the street, but serving the needs that come about at that time.”