For the first time, there are three sitting regional mayors on the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness board.
View Royal Mayor David Screech and North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr joined Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps as members.
Helps was quick to welcome the new board members. “I am thrilled to welcome my mayoral colleagues from View Royal and North Saanich to the board. The Coalition has always had a regional mandate, and with Mayor Screech and Mayor Orr at the table, we can continue to make great progress towards a region without homelessness.”
The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness was born out of the mayor’s task force on breaking the cycle of mental illness, addictions and homelessness. This was started by City of Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe in 2007. Since then, all sitting Victoria mayors have served as co-chairs to the coalition’s board.
In a press release, the mayors said that their presence “reflects our community’s shared urgency of housing affordability and homelessness across the Capital Region.”
The mayors intimated that with Helps representing a municipality in core, Screech representing a municipality located in the western communities, and Orr representing a municipality located on the Saanich Peninsula, the multi-region focus of the coalition is well served by their presence.
Through the coalition, the program secured $30 million investments each from the Capital Regional District, the Government of B.C., and the Government of Canada. This $90 million in funding is being used to create 2,000 units of affordable housing across the region. Regional Housing First Program housing has already been approved in Sooke, Langford, Salt Spring Island and Victoria. Residents are expected to begin moving into the first homes on March 1, with all units expected to be approved by 2021.
Through the Government of Canada’s National Housing and Poverty Reduction Strategies, the mayors feel the government has created “an ideal foundation for serious regional action on homelessness.”
They came to this view partially due to the creation of a provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and a pending provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy and Homelessness Action Plan.
The mayors believe “rapid and substantial progress towards a region without homelessness is in reach.”