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  NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release

2007OTP0154-001292

Oct. 12, 2007

Office of the Premier

Ministry of Forests and Range and Minister responsible for Housing

 

PROVINCE EXPANDS HOMELESS SHELTERS, HOUSING SUPPORTS

 


VANCOUVER – On the first anniversary of B.C.’s Housing Matters strategy, Premier Gordon Campbell and Housing Minister Rich Coleman today announced new and expanded measures to help break the cycle of homelessness with an added $41 million.

 

“Our goal is to break the cycle of homelessness, by expanding outreach and intervention on the street,” said Campbell. “We want to build on our successes to address homelessness in the last year and to help set the stage for faster delivery of additional, affordable and supportive housing.”

 

As part of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC, and building on the work of the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions, the four new and expanded measures are:

 

·    Increase funding for emergency shelters so they can be open 24 hours a day/seven days a week to provide better services and assistance for those who are homeless;

·    Expanding homeless outreach services to 27 new and existing communities to connect homeless people to housing and support services, including a new Aboriginal component;

·    Provide 750 rent supplement units to assist the homeless in the private market; and,

·    The Province will fund pre-development costs to ensure city-owned sites will be ready for the start of construction of new supportive housing within a year. Pre-development costs include costs for third-party work, such as architectural, geotechnical and environmental plans and studies. 

 

“We’re going to increase the supply of affordable, supportive housing so that people have a more stable base to improve their lives,” said Coleman. “To do that, we need our municipal partners to help identify sites and fast-track approvals so we can start construction within a year.”

 

Statistics show the homeless outreach work in communities across the province has resulted in more than 1,600 people on the streets finding a place to live and connecting to income and support services since the outreach work started in 2006.

 

“Homeless outreach services demonstrate that making direct contact with people on the street to offer assistance is making a real difference,” said Vancouver Police Chief Constable Jim Chu. “Our members strongly support the expansion of this work in addressing this important social issue.”

            

In addition to the new and expanded measures, 39 emergency shelters across the province will receive $2.4 million in one-time capital funding and annual operating funding increases.


 

“The increased funding for emergency shelters is very welcome news,” said Karen O’Shannacery, executive director of the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which operates two emergency shelters in Vancouver. “In our experience at the Yukon Shelter, being open 24/7 provides people with much better opportunities to find a more stable housing situation, so this expansion of the shelter program will help many people improve their lives.”          

  

Today’s announcement is a further achievement of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC, which was released one year ago this month. Through Housing Matters BC, the Province is investing $328 million in shelters and affordable housing this year, nearly three times as much as in 2001. Today’s $41-million announcement is in addition to this year’s $328-million budget.

 

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 1 backgrounder(s) attached.

 

 

Media

contact:

Mike Morton

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

250 213-8218

Susan Thom

BC Housing

604 230-1301 (cell)

 

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