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New centre with enhanced supports coming for people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo

June 28, 2024 at 10:41 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo will soon benefit from new temporary spaces with around-the clock enhanced supports as land has been identified for a new integrated navigation centre.

“People who have been chronically homeless often face complex challenges and need additional support to get back on their feet and start to rebuild their lives,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “That’s why we are working with the City of Nanaimo to provide a centre where vulnerable people can access temporary accommodation while navigating a full suite of services tailored to their specific needs.”

The Province, through BC Housing, and the City of Nanaimo worked together to identify city-owned land at 1030 Old Victoria Rd. as the site for the new Nanaimo navigation centre. Under the proposed agreement, the city would lease the site to BC Housing upon city council’s approval. The centre would provide enhanced services for people who are experiencing long-term homelessness and require a higher level of support than typically offered at a shelter.

“We want people who are unhoused to get connected with health care, including mental-health and addiction treatment, so they stabilize and can retain housing,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo. “With the new navigation centre, people can access housing and individualized care that meet their needs, benefiting not only the most vulnerable, but also the community as a whole.”

The navigation centre will be a modular building with approximately 60 private sleeping units, each with a locking door, bed and place to store personal belongings. It will include communal washrooms, a commercial kitchen, laundry/utility room, amenity room and office space.

 “Projects like the Nanaimo navigation centre are vital for addressing homelessness in our community,” said Leonard Krog, mayor of Nanaimo. “This initiative demonstrates this council’s commitment to providing necessary support and housing solutions for those in need. By working together with BC Housing, we are making significant strides towards a better future for everyone in Nanaimo.” 

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (VIMHS) has been selected to operate the centre. Staff will be on site 24/7 to provide:

  • health services, such as connections to mental-health and substance-use programs, in partnership with health providers;
  • services focused on stabilization and connections to housing;
  • overdose prevention and response programs; and
  • a daily meal program.

“We are pleased to partner with BC Housing, the City of Nanaimo and community partners to operate the navigation centre in Nanaimo,” said Taryn O’Flanagan, executive director, VIMHS. “The centre will provide a safe and supportive access point in the continuum of housing, which is an important step in ensuring the well-being of people in this community.”

These units are part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 80,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway for people in B.C., including approximately 1,700 homes in Nanaimo.

Learn More:

For details about the project, including public engagement, visit:
https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/nanaimo-1030-Old-Victoria-Road    

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

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit:
https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing  

A backgrounder follows.

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