WATCH: B.C. Government and Capital Regional District each pledge $30 million for affordable housing to address homeless crisis in Greater Victoria. Tess van Straaten reports.
It’s no secret that Greater Victoria has a homeless problem.
“We’re seeing it here in Victoria, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax,” Victoria mayor Lisa Helps says. “This is a national problem. Housing and homelessness is a big concern.”
And now, the B.C. Government is pledging $30 million — that’s in addition to all the money recently announced for temporary shelters — to match the $30 million the Capital Regional District‘s committed to build new housing for those that need it most.
“It will really have a significant impact on the region with regards to affordability and housing and stuff for people at risk of homelessness and mental illness,” says Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing.
‘Historic’ Housing First Initiative to help end homelessness
The ‘Housing First Initiative’ is being called a historic moment for the Region as concerns over the controversial tent city reach a boiling point.
“We have 1,300 people in the region that we know about who are living with insecure housing or who are homeless so this new money is really aimed at getting those who are chronically under-housed into housing,” Help says.
The $60 million injection of funds will be rolled out over the next five years, with the first tenders going out in October.
It’s hoped the Federal Government will also kick in $30 million for affordable housing, which will be built throughout the Capital Region with other big projects in the pipe province-wide.
“I would expect by the time we’re done we’ll have leveraged over $1 billion in land and cash and partnerships and stuff by the time we finish as a province,” Coleman says.
As for Tent City, Victoria’s mayor is hopeful the situation will soon be resolved.
“We’ll see Tent City gone and those people housed hopefully long before this money starts to roll out in October,” says Helps.
Housing First projects will be picked based on the greatest need, which will be determined by the Coalition to End Homelessness, and Island Health will provide mental health and addiction services.