City to fund Homelessness, but confusion rules

City council agreed to part with funding earmarked for the city’s Homelessness Coalition

City council agreed to part with funding earmarked for the city’s Homelessness Coalition at Tuesday’s council meeting but confusion reigned over money the coalition thought it had coming.

Paul Mason, spokesperson for the Homelessness Coalition, said the group was looking for $15,000 to staff a Nikola Road transition house, $1,200 for a contractor to help get a new housing complex off the ground, and a further $5,000 in support funding.

“Five-thousand dollars is actually from the City of Campbell River, which is the seed funds for 2012,” Mason said. “We received, as a coalition, from the city $5,000 when we were formed and led to believe that would be every year. We haven’t received anything for 2012.”

Coun. Andy Adams said he was under the impression the city would not be making yearly money transfers.

“My recollection is that it was one-time start-up money to get the ball rolling,” Adams said.

Mason was also looking for the city to release funding from the Vancouver Island Health Authority allocated for the specific purpose of developing housing for the city’s homeless.

Mason said the coalition needed access to $1,200 to pay a contractor hired to develop a 30-50 unit housing development for the homeless.

Mason was also looking for $15,000 for support staff at Palmer Place – a transition home for women and children who have fled abuse, with units for people with special needs.

“We need a support worker in there because unfortunately at the moment there aren’t any,” Mason said of Palmer Place which opened in July.

“We have a lot of clients who are in the early stage of recovery – addiction recovery – so it’s very important that they have the support there that they need. So we decided as a coalition that it’s definitely a worthwhile project for us to spend $15,000 for.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Walter Jakeway, an advocate for the homeless who provided his basement to a homeless First Nations man for a period last year, wanted the coalition to consider extending emergency shelter hours.

“The warm-up shelter last winter was only open when it was zero degrees ‘C,’” Jakeway said.

“I would hope and certainly suggest that it’s open every day in the winter. We had two people who died last winter. Homeless don’t have thermometers.”