The city is working on a strategy to get the city’s homeless off the street and into affordable housing.
The city’s Homelessness Task Force, which was formed in 2009, wants council to enact a Community Homelessness Coalition made up of members from the community.
“The establishment of a long-term Community Homelessness Coalition will require financial and staff resources if the city intends on playing a leadership role,” said Dale Blackburn, chair of the Homelessness Task Force, in a report to council.
“The terms of reference recommend that the city establish a minimum annual operating budget of $5,000 which will assist coalition members with the costs of attending workshops and conferences, cover administrative/office expenses, food, advertising, publishing of public notices, hosting public forums and other related expenses.”
The city recently received a one-time $50,000 grant from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, via the Strathcona Regional District, to be put toward initiatives to help end homelessness.
The task force is suggesting council hold the funds until a coalition is formed.
Once created, the Community Homelessness Coalition will be mandated to incorporate the principle of housing first. That model focuses on harm reduction through the provision of permanent low-barrier, supportive housing. The goal is to immediately house the homeless, no matter what an individual’s situation – whether they engage in substance abuse or they struggle with mental illness.
The coalition will also work with all levels of government and community partners to develop affordable long-term housing for 50 homeless people in each of the next five consecutive years.
The coalition also proposes to implement a plan to work with community partners to enhance day-time services available for people who are homeless including showers, laundry, lockers, washrooms and telephone access.
Membership in the coalition will include community service providers such as the Salvation Army, Campbell River Food Bank, North Island Transition Society, Laichwiltach Society as well as the health authority, Ministry of Housing and Social Development, BC Housing, and individuals at large.
The city’s Homelessness Task Force is recommending council budget $5,000 annually to support the Community Homelessness Coalition.