Victoria promises $1.8M for new facility that helps with homelessness

Victoria promises $1.8M for new facility that helps with homelessness
The new facility will operate at 2155 Dowler Place in Victoria.

A new facility will be opening in Victoria with wrap-around community-based services to address the risks and impacts of homelessness.

The facility will be operated by SOLID Outreach Society with up to $1.8 million in annual funding from the City of Victoria. The city also gave a one-time grant of $300,000 to acquire the property at 2155 Dowler Place.

The building was purchased for a total of $1.6 million.

“We can’t continue to wait for someone to do the job, it’s time now and it’s time now for municipalities to step up,” said Mayor Marianna Alto at a press conference Friday.

Alto calls this project unprecedented and says the city is taking a big risk.

“This is new ground for us. This is a door we haven’t opened before,” she said.

The new low-barrier access hub for the city’s unhoused population is opening in the next few weeks, providing many wrap-around services.

There’ll be access to food, harm reduction and overdose prevention services, accompaniment to hospital, vocational training, and assistance with housing case management.

Short-term and long-term health care needs will also be supported at the site.

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“We’re seeing here is a chance to provide an access hub that the city is funding to provide a range of services at one site. With a drop-in, our focus is engaged where we can get people hooked up right away to the services they need, rather than having to send someone somewhere else,” said Mark Wilson, senior director of operations and finance at SOLID Outreach.

Wilson adds that the services that will be provided are already similar to the ones that are offered at a temporary site on Pandora Avenue. The city says that once the new facility is up and running with all services, they’ll shut down their temporary sites, directing their clients to the new location for help.

Executive director Jack Phillips says they expect to help 200 to 300 people a day, with the ability to help up to 50 at one time. The new facility is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“The first thing that’s done is relationship building. From there, when you get to know somebody, it’s easier to determine what their needs are,” said Phillips.

The property will be fenced and SOLID will provide security, which will work with bylaw, Victoria Police, the fire department and city personnel.

Upgrades are underway on the property, and it is anticipated to open in “the coming months.”

“If we can do it, so can they’

Alto didn’t hold back her criticism against other municipalities in the region, challenging them to follow suit with this project.

“Yes, I will call out my colleagues in other municipalities because we know that every municipality has vulnerable residents, and it’s just too easy. It’s just too easy to let somebody else deal with that. So if we can do it, so can they,” said Alto.

The mayor acknowledged that municipalities have a responsibility to care for their residents and that “it’s time now for municipalities to step up.”

The city says it’s only providing operating funding for up to one year.

RELATED: ‘What am I supposed to do?’: Pandora Ave., Irving Park sweeps displace homeless camper

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