May 15, 2020
The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic descended on The Washington Apartments. Just about every tenant has a compromised immune system, or some form of physical and/or mental disability. Establishing safety protocols, and getting buy-in for them, was paramount.
The Washington Apartments is a low income, market rental development owned and operated by BC Housing. There are 105 units, mostly bachelor suites, offered at low market rent (significantly less than regular rent prices).
In the early days of COVID-19, hand sanitizers were placed near entrances, exits and the elevator. Additional cleaning and disinfecting were implemented. Posters were put up about physical distancing rules and proper handwashing. The Tenant Support Worker wore a mask and gloves, and helped tenants learn about the virus and how to keep themselves safe. Then, the local Bottle Depot closed its doors and the Comox Valley Food Bank temporarily closed.
Most tenants at The Washington live on a federal or provincial disability income. After rent is paid, most are left with less than $500 a month to cover food, clothing, transportation, TV, telephone, internet and other incidentals. Many subsidize their cost of living by collecting bottles and cans throughout the Comox Valley.
With the temporary closure of the food bank and no way for residents to supplement their income via the bottle depot, the Tenant Support Worker called LUSH Valley for help. Since 2017, LUSH has been one of the Washington Apartments’ most supportive partners. They have a thorough understanding of the challenges facing the tenants around food security. LUSH Valley collaborates with diverse local partners toward a food secure future for all. Ever since the summer of 2017, LUSH has been delivering fruit and farm gleaned vegetables to The Washington residents.
On April 1, 2020, LUSH Valley began preparing and delivering 200 hot meals everyday to those in greatest need in the Comox Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that date, 25 of the most vulnerable tenants at the Washington Apartments are receiving a delicious hot meal each day at noon (except weekends). With enough funding, LUSH plans to continue with this program until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
A couple of weeks later, LUSH launched their Good Food Box Program. This program delivers 75 food hampers a day to residents of the Comox Valley in greatest need. LUSH will continue to deliver these Good Food Boxes everyday for as long as the funding lasts. At the Washington, 40 tenants have been able to receive a Good Food Box once every two weeks. Additionally, LUSH introduced a Frozen Meal option for non-profits and other interested partners. BC Housing has purchased 60 Frozen Meals from LUSH Valley for tenants in need.
BC Housing recognizes the efforts of LUSH Valley to feed the most vulnerable in the Comox Valley. We acknowledge the many anonymous local donors who help sustain LUSH Valley.
The Comox Valley Food Bank did reopen its doors and we thank them for their steadfast commitment and courage to remain open during this extraordinarily challenging time.
Thank you from the tenants of The Washington Apartments.