In a move to house the unhoused population in Nanaimo, the city and province have signed an agreement to expedite supportive housing projects through BC Housing.
The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to implement actions to address the number of unhoused people in the city.
“We are determined to get people experiencing homelessness the care and supports they need, so they can move from homelessness to a stable home,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing.
“Recognizing that more needs to be done to support them, the Province and the City of Nanaimo are formalizing a commitment to work together so that encampment response is better co-ordinated and unsheltered people have appropriate supports.”
In addition to expediting supportive housing projects, the city has committed to bringing forward available land for these projects, and the two governments have agreed to a more coordinated approach to outreach and provision of support services.
“No one is happy about the human misery in our streets. Today’s memorandum guarantees that many of our vulnerable citizens will have a safe, secure place to live with the necessary supports in place to enable them to leave street life behind them,” said Leonard Krog, mayor of Nanaimo.
“The continuing challenges of our homeless population can only be solved when we actually house people and recognize their specific needs. The city is incredibly grateful for this serious commitment.”
Prince George, Kelowna and Abbotsford have signed similar agreements with the province as part of the Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) and the Homeless Encampment Action Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) programs.
HEART and HEARTH aim to add 3,900 supportive housing units and 240 complex-care spaces across the province.
In 2020 and 2021, the province funded point-in-time homeless counts in 25 communities across B.C. At the time, there were 8,665 homeless people counted, of which 3,332 were unsheltered.