A grassroots coalition of Victoria-area residents are coming together to help unhoused people in their community get their paperwork sorted.
“When you’re unhoused and not feeling well, if you have literacy issues or disability issues, it just becomes insurmountable in your mind,” said Amy Allard, a volunteer at See Spring Wellness Coalition. “We say it’s OK, we’re going to get through this together. And we do.”
Our newest Pilot Project “Paper Tales & Trails” is officially open! Any unhoused friend in #yyj @CityOfVictoria can get any unlimited free paperwork help. Our office is right in the Block and Tuesday’s & Thursday’s 9-3 we’re at your service! We will move mountains to help you❤️
— See Spring Mental Wellness Coalition (@SeeSpringVic) April 10, 2023
In addition to linking their unhoused neighbours to services through a pamphlet (available to shopowners and/or providers via email request), See Spring Wellness is now trying to help people with their paperwork.
“We had eight people already in today. Somebody who lives in their car. Someone who lives two blocks from here who had no ID, no paperwork, nothing,” said Allard.
Allard says ID cards are notorious for being stolen on the streets. Without one though, not much can be done to lift someone out of homelessness.
“You go into service Canada and you’re supposed to have some ID to get more. So someone tells you to go to the passport office or ICBC. It’s so overwhelming they’ll just stop,” said Allard.
With 20 volunteers, See Spring Wellness Coalition is hoping to help those unhoused in Victoria navigate what Together Against Poverty Society’s (TAPS) CEO Douglas King calls “a patchwork system.”
“We need an army honestly right now to help with the issues we have right now in poverty, with the housing crisis the way it is, so the more the merrier,” said King.
“There’s an old adage that being poor feels like a full-time job with the amount of paperwork you need to do. The applications that are required, have to prove who you are and your level of income over and over again to the government. And it’s only gotten more complicated, as we have a few patchwork benefits. This new outreach support is really necessary and a great addition.”
In their centrally located bright yellow office in the First Mets Church on Quadra Street, Allard says word of mouth is already spreading quickly.
“When you see somebody has an advocate, whose there with the best intentions and just wants to see that this person is OK, it’s a relief for everybody involved,” said Allard.
In addition to guiding people through the process of applying for an ID, See Spring is also offering safe storage to ensure while people are unhoused, their important documents remain protected.