Housing money delivered to Victoria homelessness advocacy group

Provincial grant will help create housing for an additional 120 individuals

The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness received much-needed funding this week with a $400,000 grant from B.C. Housing for one of its successful pilot projects.

The Streets to Homes program has already provided housing for 130 people in the Capital Region over the past two years, using a unique delivery of services through a $300 housing subsidy, community support workers and willing landlords with private-market buildings.

Provincial funds will cover 103 spaces, while another 17 spots will be funded by the Coalition, United Way, the City of Victoria and the Victoria Foundation.

“It’s going to take a lot of different tools to end homelessness, so this program won’t work for everybody, but it’s really effective for the people it’s intended for,” said Andrew Wynn-Williams, Coalition executive director.

The province likes the program because it costs about $7,000 per participant each year, less than half the cost of purpose-built supportive housing.

Streets to Homes uses a “housing-first” approach, then works with each person to create an action plan to overcome addiction, treat mental health issues or undergo employment training.

Nearly three-quarters of participants remain in the program after one year, said Brad Crewson, who oversees the project through Pacifica Housing.

“The program only works if we can provide people with some stability,” he said.

“All of the psychological benefits from feeling safe and secure, and being able to address other issues in your life, that really isn’t happening when all you’re thinking is what you’re going to do for housing in two, four, six months.”

Crewson hopes to see Streets to Homes expand to provide support for families as well. He said the key to success is collaborative work with each non-profit service provider in the Capital Region.

“That’s the piece we take a lot of pride in. The beauty of the Coalition is we are really making a concerted effort in maximizing these (funding) dollars and focusing our resources.”

Wynn-Williams said there is still much more work to be done to “break the back” of the challenge of homelessness.

“We still need to create more supportive housing. We’ve targeted a certain number of rent supplements and supportive housing, and we think we need about another 700 units,” he said.

Streets to Homes is a partnership between the Coalition, Pacifica Housing, B.C. Housing, Our Place Society, Salvation Army, Victoria Cool Aid Society, Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Ministry of Social Development.

dpalmer@vicnews.com