The Province has bought the Comfort Inn Hotel in Victoria to provide 65 rooms for the temporary stay of people currently living in Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue.
The long term use of the building, located at 3020 Blanchard Street, will be determined at a later time, but for now it will help Victoria safely house some of the vulnerable population amid the pandemic.
The province, along with the City of Victoria, have been working on moving people living in Topaz park or on Pandora Avenue into safe accommodations since April 25, and as of May 13, have moved 208 people out of their encampments.
“Everyone deserves to have safe, stable housing they can afford, and this site offers great potential to deliver a mix of permanent housing to meet the needs of people in Victoria,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This will further add to the significant efforts underway with community and local government partners in the Capital Regional District to tackle the housing crisis and build the homes people need.”
The city says the community will help them decide what to do with the building after COVID-19, but for now, this will provide residents with wrap-around supports.
“Often people experiencing homelessness are not able to access the support and services they need,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The purchase of the Comfort Inn, combined with medical and social supports, will help people make the transition from the street to permanent housing.”
BC Housing is partnering with Our Place to operate the building, which will start to receive people – referred by Island Health and BC Housing – in the coming days.
“This is a substantial investment in our community and will provide housing for those who need it most,” says Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria. “This site has significant redevelopment potential to provide a range of affordable housing in the long term. I look forward to working with the community and with BC Housing to determine the long-term use of this site.”
Residents of the ex-hotel will have access to services, such as meals, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings. There will be 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood.
“Our Place is looking forward to partnering with BC Housing in this bold initiative to provide indoor accommodations for our street family during this health crisis,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications, Our Place Society. “We intend to serve this vulnerable population with dignity while striving to be a good neighbour to the community.”
For those currently living in the community who are concerned about their new neighbours, BC Housing will set up a new community advisory committee that will include representatives from the Hillside Quadra and Burnside Gorge community associations and the surrounding community. The committee will oversee the supportive housing’s integration within the community and will address any concerns raised by people in the neighbourhood.