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From homeless to creating art for Pacifica Housing’s 6th annual Art Show

Pacifica Housing is a leading provider of affordable housing on southern Vancouver Island.

Chris Forester, the manager of Pacifica Housing Outreach Services, says that the organization has approximately 36 buildings, 1200 units, and serves about 2,000 people.

The philosophy of the non-profit is that once people find safe, permanent, affordable housing, other needs can be addressed, such as health, family and relationships, and finding a creative outlet to express themselves.

Six years ago, that “creative outlet” found a home of its own, when Pacifica organized its first Art Show, showcasing pieces produced by residents of various complexes.

On Oct. 24, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., Parkside Hotel and Spa will host the 6th annual Pacifica Housing Art Show.

“When we get people into housing, they’re allowed to stabilize. They’re allowed to work on those pieces of themselves that need work, and art is just one of the by-products,” Forester said.

Algonquin artist Earl Lace has a piece in the show.

“I was on the street for a few years, dealing with addictions,” says Earl. “It was kinda hard to do my art.”

Earl has been housed through Pacifica since the spring, and he’s grateful.

“They gave me shelter, they helped me get off the street, so hopefully, things will turn around for me.”

Forester says Pacifica Housing is “a harm-reduction, housing first, client-centered service.

“So we meet clients where they’re at, and we try to work with them, with their specific needs, and offer individualized support through our various supported-housing, and private-market-subsidy programs,” Forester said.

Vivian has lived in a Pacifica Housing complex for more than 13 years. She was once homeless.

“I lived in my car for about two weeks,” says Vivian, “And I slept on floors, and it’s just…that is not a way to live.”

Vivian will also have a piece in the art show.

“This is my first time, so it’s going to be very interesting. I’m looking forward to it myself.”

There will be 40 pieces for sale at this year’s art show. Twenty per cent of proceeds go to Pacifica Housing’s art programs.

“And 80 per cent rightfully goes to the tenant, so that they can reinvest in their art, or do whatever they like with that money,” Forester said.

Forester hopes to see many people from the community at the Oct. 24 event. “It means so much to the people that produce the art, and it’s a great way for us to connect with the rest of the community. So come out, come see us, meet some artists, and see some great artwork.”

Click here for more information about the sixth annual Pacifica Housing Art Show.

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