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More supports coming for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria

February 23, 2024 at 11:18 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been formalized between the Province and the City of Victoria to co-ordinate rapid supports for people experiencing homelessness in the community.

“People experiencing homelessness in Victoria will have better access to a range of services through this agreement between the Province and the City of Victoria,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We all know that encampments are not a safe place for people to live. This partnership will result in better homelessness response actions, so people can have access to appropriate supports and services quickly.”

The MOU reaffirms the commitment between the Province and the city to work together to address homelessness in the community. Through the Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) and the Homeless Encampment Action Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) programs, the health and safety of people are prioritized by providing rapid and co-ordinated multidisciplinary responses when encampments arise.

“The Province and the city continue to work together to tackle the urgent need for housing, shelter and social support in our community,” said Marianne Alto, mayor of Victoria. “This partnership underscores our ongoing commitment to human-centred solutions for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. With this MOU, we can rely on the Province to take advantage of opportunities and undertake innovative actions – partners in a comprehensive strategy to provide rapid access to the supports and services needed to help unhoused people find a home. The reopening of this housing on Caledonia is the first act in that partnership.”

Under the agreement, the Province, through BC Housing, is reopening the 30-unit Caledonia Place (formerly Tiny Town) at 940 Caledonia Ave., with funding from the HEARTH program. The units, intended to be temporary, will provide interim housing for people who have been staying in shelters long term and free up shelter spaces for people sheltering outdoors. Our Place Society, which operated the former Tiny Town, will operate Caledonia Place until September 2025.

“We know that small, well-managed sites, like the former Tiny Town, can be safe for both those needing support and the neighbourhoods around them when they are appropriately located,” said Chief Const. Del Manak, Victoria Police Department. “We support this approach to finding solutions for our most vulnerable populations and look forward to continuing our work toward a safer community together.”

In addition to implementing HEART and HEARTH in Victoria, the Province has expanded shelter capacity by providing additional operating funding so that St. John the Divine Church extreme-weather response shelter can operate as a temporary winter shelter. Thirty beds at 1611 Quadra St. are open every night through the shelter season. The shelter is operated by SOLID Outreach Society.

Together, these 60 temporary spaces will increase the housing and shelter options available to people experiencing homelessness in the community, while the Province, through BC Housing, works to bring other temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to Victoria.

Quotes:

Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill –

“Working together is key if we want to prevent homelessness in our community and that is why this partnership is critical to our work. When vulnerable people have safe housing with supports such as health care and skills training, they can start to rebuild their lives, supporting healthy and safe communities for everyone.”

Leah Young, director of housing and shelter, Our Place Society  

Our Place Society is excited to be a part of the new homelessness programs in Victoria. We are glad to be able to provide more shelter and housing to people who desperately need it and we will be managing it with a similar approach as done before. The small, supported-housing site worked well and its strength was building a community for all involved.”

Learn More:

To read the MOU, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BC_Victoria_MOU_HEART_and_HEARTH.pdf

For more information about the HEART and HEARTH program, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/homelessness-services/HEART-HEARTH

To read the Belonging in BC plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BelongingStrategy.pdf

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