WATCH: The province paid $11.2-million to convert 844 Johnson Street to 140 long-term housing units. Monica Martinez reports.
The building on 844 Johnson Street used to be a senior’s care home, but now it belongs to the province. It paid $11.2-million to convert it to 140 long-term housing units aimed to shelter people camping Victoria’s tent city.
“I don’t think anyone should be living in a tent in 2016. I would like to see the people who are homeless there move into the new housing provided,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
The Portland Hotel Society will operate the facility and provide outreach support for mental health and addictions.
Homeless activists welcomed the news, but are upset tent city residents were not consulted.
“The province hasn’t met with the residents who live here and I don’t believe they understand the complexity of need here so I’m not sure what kind of supportive housing this 140 units will be. We just know it will be 140 units,” said Together Against Poverty Society’s Stephen Portman.
Homeless activist and tent city resident Christine Brett said she believes some people will definitely move into the new housing units, while others insist on staying.
The building renovations will take several weeks and is expected to be in operation in late July, the timing coinciding with an injunction hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court which could end tent city.
“This is just one of several housing options so as we are going through in the courts, anyone who wants housing will have a safe place to go,” said Housing Minister Rich Coleman.
He said they are also working with Choices to add more capacity and have another property in Victoria under contract which would add another 50 units.
Mayor Lisa Helps said she hopes the community spirit of tent city continues, but moves safely indoors.
“I’d like to see people move inside and would like to see courthouse lawn returned to a lawn for people to take their lunch break.”
The Province hasn’t given details on what kind of living restrictions this new facility will have, but building renovations will begin immediately.