Nanaimo’s homeless to get more help because of pandemic

Nanaimo's homeless to get more help because of pandemic
WatchThe City of Nanaimo and BC Housing are working on a new emergency resource centre.

As the province moves to shelter homeless people during the pandemic in Victoria and Vancouver, there hasn’t been a similar move in Nanaimo at this time. But there are efforts underway to help Nanaimo’s homeless during the pandemic.

Wendy Brown has been giving food and supplies to homeless people in downtown Nanaimo for close to a month.

With 425 people counted in March as not having shelter and the pandemic making life more difficult for the homeless Brown says more should be done to help them.

“Because of their addictions, they aren’t in a good position to make good choices so we need to help them. They need help until they can help themselves,” Brown said.

In Victoria and Vancouver, the province is leasing hotel rooms, but there hasn’t been a similar announcement in Nanaimo.

The head of Nanaimo’s Health and housing task force says there is a difference between the communities.

“There’s need all across the province and some of those announcements haven’t necessarily been coming to Nanaimo but Nanaimo doesn’t have a tent city in our downtown right now like some of the other cities do,” said Don Bonner, the Task Force’s Chair and City Councillor.

But Bonner says the city has been working with the province to establish up to two emergency resource centres.

“To make sure that the situation doesn’t get out of control for people getting sick so the idea is setting up shelters gives us more ability to help those who are vulnerable and make sure they stay healthy,” said Bonner.

And while one Nanaimo hotel backed out of a contract with BC Housing for 40 spaces Bonner says he expects hotels will play a smaller role here, housing women and children leaving violence or the homeless who need to self-isolate.

“As we go through more testing of the homeless population that number may increase but I don’t expect it to go up too much,” said Bonner.


Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!