Investments in local programs support people who are unhoused

August 24, 2022 at 1:33 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People in 44 communities throughout British Columbia will have access to more local services that respond to the effects of homelessness during extreme weather.

“There is a critical need for local services during times of crisis, and this funding provides a much-needed boost to community services that continue to be strained,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Initiatives like this are part of our government’s ongoing focus on making life better for people and helping local communities be more resilient.”

The Strengthening Communities’ Services Program supports local governments and modern Treaty Nations in building additional capacity to address the needs of unsheltered people in their communities, while keeping communities safe and healthy.

The Province is investing more than $15 million in community-led projects that provide services, such as outreach and mental-health supports, creating new temporary shelters for people experiencing homelessness, and expanding shelter availability during potential extreme weather through the program’s second intake. The funding is in addition to the $76 million provided to local governments and modern Treaty Nations through the program in 2021.

With this funding, for example, the City of Vancouver is expanding a program that provides safe access to washrooms in locations serving people who are unhoused. Hosted and operated by non-profit organizations, the sites are monitored for overdose and violence prevention. On-site staff with lived experience provide a range of health supplies and information, and can connect people to housing and outreach services. Strengthening Communities’ Services Program funding adds to ongoing cross-government support for people who are unhoused in Vancouver, including in encampments.

“Our partnership with the Province is key to delivering frontline programs and services to meet people where they’re at, outside of traditional health-care sites, and support people who can typically be hard to reach,” said Kennedy Stewart, mayor, City of Vancouver. “The Strengthening Communities’ Services Program is a good example of the different levels of government working together to better fortify communities across the province to bring compassionate, well-co-ordinated services to those in need.”

Fort St. John is using funding from the program to expand warming and cooling shelters to bring immediate relief to people during extreme weather, like summer heatwaves.

“We are happy to receive funding from this year’s Strengthening Communities’ Services grant to support our most vulnerable residents,” said Lori Ackerman, mayor, Fort St. John. “This funding will allow us to expand the operation of our warming centre for eight additional months to act as a daytime shelter as we transition between seasons. We look forward to continuing to work with the Province to support our community in the future.”

The Strengthening Communities’ Services Program is open to all municipalities, regional districts, Islands Trust and modern Treaty Nations in B.C. It is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

“Communities throughout the province are struggling with growing numbers of unsheltered citizens, many of whom require long-term complex care and supportive housing options,” said Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, president, UBCM. “This program provides funding to sustain local services, expand temporary shelters options and provide critical services during the current crisis is greatly welcomed.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Strengthening Communities’ Services Program is part of the Safe Restart Agreement, a $540-million shared venture between the Government of Canada and the Province, providing funding to local governments to help communities manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Other funding includes:
    • $425 million in direct grants for local government operations to address facility reopening and operating costs, emergency response costs, lost revenues and other COVID-19-related impacts; and
    • $15 million for the Local Government Development Approvals Program to increase the efficiency of local development approval processes.
  • The Province is making the largest investment in housing supply in B.C. history – $7 billion over 10 years – and working with partners to deliver 114,000 affordable homes. Nearly 34,000 homes are already completed or underway throughout the province.

Learn More:

For a list of the projects funded through the second intake of the Strengthening Communities’ Services Program, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Strengthening_Communities_Services_2022.pdf

Learn more about StrongerBC: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Learn more about B.C.’s economic recovery plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

Government of Canada takes action on COVID-19: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/canadas-reponse/government-canada-takes-action-covid-19.html

Learn more about the successful applicants of the first intake of the Strengthening Communities’ Services Program: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021MUNI0044-001589

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