Victoria groups launch plan to house roughly 200 homeless by year's end
VICTORIA -- It’s an ambitious plan, but stakeholders say it can be done. They aim to find roughly 200 homes for people living in tents in and around Victoria and get them off the streets before the end of the year.
Derritt Meyer knows how hard it is living on the streets.
“I’ve actually slept everywhere in the city,” said Meyer.
He had been living in a tent on Pandora Avenue before that encampment was broken up.
“Finally, they started giving people places and I’ve seen a huge difference in the people,” said Meyer. “It’s like night and day.”
He was given a room at the Comfort Inn. That gave him the opportunity to get back on his feet.
“Getting a place to live and shelter and food is utterly transformational for many people,” said Julian Daly, CEO of Our Place Society.
That’s why the mayor of Victoria has brought together a group of stakeholders – including the Capital Regional District, BC Housing and other nonprofit organizations – with the ambitious goal to house roughly 200 people currently living in tents by the end of this year.
“There absolutely are 200 spaces,” said Daly. “That’s kind of key for the drive to get folk in there, was ensuring that (they) did actually exist and are not just sort of notional.”
Here’s how the numbers will break down:
BC Housing will fund 110 units in the form of rent supplements between $750 to $825 a month. If housing can be found through those supplements, that will free up spaces in supportive housing.
Sixty new rental accommodations are currently being completed in CRD-funded buildings, and there are 24 new spaces for men wanting to get into treatment at Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community in View Royal.
Lesly Valour lives in the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood. She says housing for the homeless living near her can’t come soon enough.
“I live nine houses from Cecelia Ravine Park and almost everyday there is a new tent there,” said Valour. “Almost every week, if not twice a week, I have to call the city to clean-up garbage.”
“We’ve all witnessed crime, wether it’s drug deals or bike thefts,” she added.
In order for the plan to work, the group is relying on the private sector for help.
“Part of the challenge is getting the landlords to take folks in who have rent supplements,” said Daly.
Derritt Meyer knows from experience how a roof over one’s head can change one’s life.
“They don’t need a whole lot,” said Meyer. “They just need a little bit to get started.”