|Original News Release|
The Province will provide $41 million in annual funding to fully implement new and expanded measures to help break the cycle of homelessness. They include:
24/7 Emergency Shelters – $25 million
· At least 500 shelter beds now closed during the day will switch to 24/7 in the next few weeks.
· These beds will be at shelters in the major urban areas of the province (e.g. Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Prince George).
· The majority of the other shelters that will be switching to 24/7 will do so by April 1.
· Most emergency shelters are closed during the day. This means homeless people are sent back onto the street each morning, and shelter staff is unable to provide support to link people to existing community services, including more permanent types of stable housing.
· Some shelters will not have the physical space or service capacity to be open 24/7, but will continue operating during their existing hours, with provincial funding.
Expanding Homeless Outreach – $3.9 million
· More than 1,600 people on the street in about 30 communities across the province have found stable housing as a result of homeless outreach services.
· Based on this success, new outreach services will be established in seven communities: Campbell River, Comox, Courtenay, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Nelson and Vernon.
· Existing outreach services will be expanded in 20 communities: Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Hope, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Surrey, Sea-to-Sky Corridor, Tofino, West Island area, Vancouver and Victoria.
Aboriginal Outreach – $500,000
· Surveys and homeless counts have found that Aboriginal people represent about one-third or more of the homeless population.
· Homeless outreach workers have identified the need for an Aboriginal component to better connect with homeless Aboriginal people and link them to appropriate supports and services.
· The Province will work with the homeless outreach teams to identify communities where this will be implemented.
Homeless Rent Supplements – $1.1 million
· A pilot program with the homeless outreach teams has provided rent supplements in the private market for 315 units. This has proven effective in providing more options for affordable, stable housing.
· The pilot program will be made permanent, with an additional 750 rent supplements made available.
Fast-track Approvals - $10 million
· The Province has had discussions with the City of Vancouver on the development of supportive housing on city-owned sites.
· Work will continue on expediting municipal approvals, and the Province will fund pre-development costs for the sites to ensure they will be ready for construction within a year.
· The Province has also held preliminary discussions with Surrey, Victoria and Kelowna, to identify sites where the same can occur.
· In addition, the Province would welcome similar discussions with any other municipalities.
Emergency Shelter Program Capital and Operating Funding
The above expanded services are in addition to new, one-time capital funding and additional, ongoing operating funding for Emergency Shelter Program providers, totalling $2.4 million, which will be distributed to 39 shelters in 19 communities. A breakdown of this funding is available at www.bchousing.org/programs/ESP#Links online.
Over the past year, a number of achievements were made toward breaking the cycle of homelessness:
· Over 1,600 homeless people were assisted off the street and into stable housing in 30 communities, through homeless outreach services, including 315 homeless individuals assisted through a rent supplement pilot program in the private rental market.
· Through the Emergency Shelter Program, about 300 seasonal, cold/wet weather beds were converted to year-round beds, raising the number of year-round beds to about 1,300 across the province.
· Through the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, more than 2,300 housing units with supports for the homeless have been committed to help people move beyond temporary emergency shelter so they can re-establish their independence.
· Eleven Single Room Occupancy hotels were purchased in Vancouver and Victoria to help preserve this important source of affordable housing.
· People found new homes in 225 housing units at seven new supportive housing developments that completed construction this year.
· 292 new housing units were committed to under the Aboriginal Housing Initiative.
Office of the Premier
604 230-1301 (cell)
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