VICTORIA -- The federal government will provide $13.1 million to build up to 91 new supportive housing units for Greater Victoria residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The new units will be at two sites in Greater Victoria; one at 1909 Prosser Rd. in Saanichton and one at 2941 Albina St., near Saanich Gorge Park.

The funding comes from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) new Rapid Housing Initiative and will flow through the Capital Regional District to fulfill the housing projects.

“The challenge of housing is not limited to Victoria,” said provincial Housing Minister David Eby on Wednesday.

His federal housing counterpart said cities like Victoria have found themselves “on the front lines” of dealing with a lack of affordable housing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far too many Canadians are forced to make the impossible choice between paying rent and putting food on the table,” said CMHC Minister Ahmed Hussen on a video call from Ottawa.

The B.C. government will support the projects with annual operating funding over 20 years, and non-profit housing operators will be chosen to manage the properties.

Construction on the two sites is expected to begin this summer.

The announcement comes just two days after Eby announced the B.C. government had signed a deal with the City of Victoria to end homeless encampments in the city by the end of April.

The memorandum of understanding announced Monday also aims to ban tent encampments from cropping up in Victoria parks and greenspaces in the future.

Earlier this month, the province purchased a property in Vic West that is also expected to become a supportive housing centre. 

The 865 Catherine St. site was purchased by BC Housing on March 11. On Wednesday, the province said the Vic West property would be converted into 45 supportive housing units, with construction expected to begin this summer.

It's one of four new Victoria housing projects the B.C. government is expecting to begin construction on this year. The other three projects are: 

  • 60 units at 959 and 953 Balmoral Rd., construction is expected to start in winter 2021
  • 50 units at 1053 and 1075 Meares St., construction is expected to start in summer 2021
  • 37 units at 1176 Yates St., construction is expected to start in summer 2021