Most of the North Island’s movers, shakers and decision makers were in one place on Friday, discussing the impact of the housing crisis on their communities and looking for new ways to address the crisis.
The Vital Conversation on Housing Security was put on by the Campbell River Foundation. The foundation published a vital signs report earlier this year, which included a section on housing. That process prompted them to try to do more to address housing and homelessness in Campbell River and beyond.
“Our community is already having important communications about housing every month. So we wanted to do more,” said Campbell River Foundation Executive Director Michaela Arruda, referring to the monthly meetings held by event co-sponsor Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness (CRDCEH). “This event is about housing across the spectrum, housing for everyone.”
“Months ago when we started putting together the vital signs report, we obviously could see in our community that there’s a visible need for housing security,” Arruda said. “It’s about bringing all of the stakeholders in housing together in or community so that we can collaborate and increase capacity and knowledge in our community.”
“We just hope that we can be bringing people together to make those connections to really make things happen for the better.”
The event looked at current examples of community housing, the development process, opportunities for innovation within that process and funding and financing options for housing projects.
While the housing topic is often connected to that of homelessness, the speakers stressed that the housing crisis affects people from all walks of life.
“It’s not just the unhoused that we need to take action for, it’s our rapidly growing population of seniors,” Arruda said. “It’s our workforce. It’s our dual income educated young families that are struggling to make their mortgage payment. It’s everyone.”
CRDCEH coordinator Stefanie Hendrickson agreed, saying that “not one of us in this room doesn’t know somebody who is living in core housing need.”
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney spoke, saying that many of her constituents have come to her to talk about their feelings towards unhoused people in the region. She said that she understands the sentiment, but that empathy is needed for
“It’s just getting scarier,” said Blaney. “When people are put in a position where they don’t have a safe place to be, who they are fundamentally changes.”
“I know who I am,” she said. “But If I don’t have a safe place to live, I don’t know who I would be in that moment.”
Two more sessions were held in the afternoon on Friday.