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Homeless shelter proposed

The city’s Homelessness Coalition is proposing to build a 30-unit supportive housing facility for the city’s most vulnerable

The city’s Homelessness Coalition is proposing to build a 30-unit supportive housing facility for the city’s most vulnerable.

Paul Mason made the announcement on behalf of the coalition at a city council meeting Aug. 28.

“We are now committed to producing a minimum 30-unit facility that is co-ed, supported and consistent with a housing first model,” Mason said. “We have hired a contractor who is connecting with local social service agencies, BC Housing, CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), federal, provincial and local government representatives.”

The housing first model is focused on harm reduction through the provision of permanent low-barrier, supportive housing. The goal is to immediately house people who are homeless no matter what their situation, whether they engage in substance abuse or they struggle with mental illness. Research shows that communities that use this model have much more success at addressing homelessness.

Mason said he’s eager to get the new facility off the ground and the contractor will be helping the coalition to find a suitable piece of property, community partners, funding models and other information necessary to move the project forward.

The only thing Mason still needed was a guarantee from council that the funding would be there.

“To move ahead we require confirmation from council that the $319,644 that came to the city from VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority) through the Strathcona Regional District is allocated and available to the Campbell River Homeless Coalition for the specific purpose of developing housing for homeless people in Campbell River,” Mason said. “What we’re asking for is that the funding be held by the city for the Campbell River Homelessness Coalition so that we can use that as leverage, to build a 30-unit or even buy a property. We have to have leverage. If we go to BC Housing and say ‘we’d like to do this’ they’re going to say ‘what’s your contribution?”. To be able to have that funding to use, for us is priceless.”

Council then made a motion to hold onto the funding and keep the money available to the coalition for the housing project. The city’s efforts to get the homeless off the streets took off in February 2009, when the Campbell River Homelessness Task Force was formed. The goal of the task force was to develop affordable long-term housing for 50 people for each of the next five consecutive years.