Piper Ellaner Eason leads the walkers to start the Coldest Night of the Year, an event held across Canada to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

New supportive housing called a significant step towards ending homelessness in Campbell River

The newly announced 40-50 units of supportive housing in Campbell River, funded by BC Housing, will have a huge impact on the homeless population by providing permanent, stable housing for over half of the city’s homeless population, according to the Campbell River & District Coalition to End Homelessness (CRDCEH).

The provincial homeless count held in Campbell River in April, 2018 found at least 81 people experiencing homelessness, nearly half of whom identified as indigenous. Currently, there are 40 beds available in homeless shelters in Campbell River, leaving over half the identified homeless population to sleep rough on the streets.

“This investment of 50 homes for people who are trying to get off the streets and rebuild their lives will have an incredibly positive impact on our community. Campbell River is in crisis due to affordable housing challenges and we need this supportive housing project,” Kristi Schwanicke, Community Impact Officer for United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Islandsays in a press release. “Seeing this collaboration between government agencies is very encouraging and we are committed to helping with this project, and any future projects, so we can see an end to homelessness.”

Over recent years, Campbell River has been negatively impacted by a lack of affordable housing. Due to a 28 per cent increase in the cost of single family homes between 2015 and 2017, as well as an extremely low rental vacancy rate of 1.3 per cent, residents are finding they can no longer afford their housing and cannot find housing they can afford.

In particular, low-income households, single parents and seniors are being impacted by the pressures of increased costs of living. In a survey conducted by the CRDCEH, it was found that nearly 3,500 households in Campbell River and Area D are currently experiencing affordability issues and spend over 30 per cent of their annual income on housing costs.

The CRDCEH works as a collective to plan, coordinate, recommend and implement community responses to homelessness. United Way Central & Northern Vancouver (UWCNVI) Island helped form the CRDCEH in March 2018 and sits as part of their leadership table. UWCNVI has also helped form homeless coalitions in Comox and Nanaimo.

To continue to encourage affordable housing in the region, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association is hosting a one day workshop, Ready, Set, Build on May 13 in Campbell River. A total of 20 non-profit organizations wishing to learn more about how to build affordable housing can participate. Information and registration is available here: https://bcnpha.ca/courses/ready-set-build-campbell-river/

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