DUNCAN − The Province is partnering with the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan to build close to 100 new supportive homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the Cowichan Valley.
“The need for safe, secure housing has never been more important”, said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. “We’re taking urgent action with our partners to provide these homes for people in the Cowichan Valley because when people have housing and supports, it’s good for everyone in the community.”
BC Housing has purchased two sites, 2983 Drinkwater Rd. in North Cowichan and 260 White Rd. in Duncan, to develop safe, secure housing with wraparound supports. Construction of the two new buildings is expected to begin in early 2021.
"Permanent housing for all citizens is essential for healthy individuals, healthy communities and healthy societies,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “This investment in Cowichan comes as a result of the government responding to the united calls from local housing advocates, health-care providers and leaders in our community.
“We have seen successful outcomes for homeless people from the temporary housing plan with wraparound services the Cowichan Housing Association and other organizations put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It works because all the pieces are working together: housing, security, food, mental health support. Permanent housing for people in Cowichan will build on these first steps toward dignity and independence for all citizens.”
The Drinkwater Road project will include approximately 50 units and will be operated by Lookout Housing & Health Society. Construction is expected to be complete in early 2021. The White Road location will include up to 50 homes. A housing operator for this building will be selected in the coming months, and construction is expected to be complete in early 2021.
“I am pleased to see these projects move forward in our respective communities. I have been a long-time proponent of permanent housing solutions with much-needed wraparound services,” said Al Siebring, mayor, North Cowichan. “These units will help address homelessness both in North Cowichan and in the Cowichan Valley while giving our most vulnerable populations access to vital services.”
The housing will be comprised of self-contained studio homes. Residents will be provided with 24/7 on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Duncan city council has identified working to address the homelessness and opioid crisis as top priorities for this term,” said Michelle Staples, mayor, City of Duncan. “Service providers
and health-care professionals have been asking for supportive housing with wraparound services, including treatment options and safe supply, for many years. These projects are yet another example of what becomes possible when we define a goal, commit to action and work together as local and provincial governments to meet the needs in our communities.”
BC Housing will set up community advisory committees in both municipalities to oversee integration of the supportive housing within the community and address any concerns raised by people in both communities as the projects move forward. The committees will be established prior to the housing opening.
“I'm pleased to be working with our neighboring communities to address the homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless,” said Chief William Seymour, Cowichan Tribes. “This gives them an opportunity to have a safe and secure home, especially during this pandemic era. This is a much-needed resource in the Cowichan community.”
Delivering affordable housing is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
- The B.C. government purchased the Drinkwater Road site in North Cowichan for $976,185 and the White Road site in Duncan for $663,730 through the Supportive Housing Fund.
- The site acquisitions and expedited development plans are part of the Province’s work to transition people from homelessness to long-term, stable housing and a commitment to continue to support people with appropriate housing options after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To find out more about the projects, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing here: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/
- BC Housing will reach out to the community with more options for engagement over the next few weeks.
For more information on how BC Housing is supporting British Columbians during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19/
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Services, supports provided for modular housing
All new modular housing buildings in the province have around-the-clock staffing to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical need of housing.
The Province is providing annual operating funding to help those with the highest housing needs to build new beginnings. Experienced staff provide support to tenants based on their assessed needs.
Services and supports provided to young people, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, include:
- on-site supports and connection to additional specialized supports in their community;
- supports that are tailored to the needs of the residents, including education and employment opportunities, and health and wellness services, including mental health and addiction treatment programs;
- individual or group support services, such as life skills, community information and social and recreational programs;
- case planning and needs assessment;
- other supports designed to assist residents in meeting their personal and housing goals, including culturally specific programs;
- help accessing income assistance, pension benefits, disability benefits, obtaining a B.C. identification card or establishing a bank account;
- support for residents to learn how to operate and maintain a home; and
- free laundry services, either on or off site.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Province building new homes to meet full spectrum of housing needs
The B.C. government is working in partnership with non-profits, municipalities, First Nations, Indigenous housing organizations and the private sector to build 114,000 affordable homes that cover the full spectrum of housing needs for British Columbians by 2028.
Budget 2018 included a $7-billion investment in the homes people need. As a result of that investment, more than 23,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process for a range of people who are struggling to find a place to live, from people who are experiencing homelessness and seniors on fixed incomes, to middle-income families, students and individuals. As of Dec. 31, 2019, this includes:
Housing for people with middle incomes
The average annual household income qualifying for homes underway is under $99,000 per year – 2,802 homes:
- HousingHub: 2,802 homes
Housing for people with low to moderate incomes
This includes people residing in social housing (household incomes less than $65,000) as well as those living in affordable market rentals (households with annual incomes up to $74,000) – 9,837 homes:
- Building BC: Community Housing Fund (30% of units in each project): 1,565 rental homes for people with low to moderate incomes
- Affordable Rental Housing Program: 1,615 homes for people with low to moderate incomes
- Deepening Affordability Fund: 1,976 homes for people with low to moderate incomes
- Regional Housing First Program: 907 homes for people with low to moderate incomes
Social housing or subsidized rents:
- Building BC: Community Housing Fund (50% of units in each project): 2,609 rental homes for people with low incomes
- Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund: 1,165 homes for Indigenous peoples, on- and off- reserve
Housing for people with very low incomes
Rental housing for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, or for people with very low incomes (includes supportive housing and shelter-rate housing) – 4,795 homes:
- Rapid Response to Homelessness: 2,012 homes with 24/7 support
- Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund: 1,060 homes with 24/7 support
- Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund: 679 spaces of transition, second-stage and affordable rental housing for women and children leaving violence
- Building BC: Community Housing Fund (20% of units in each project): 1,044 homes
Housing for students – 5,584 homes:
- BC Student Housing Loan Program: 2,699 on-campus student housing units are under construction, in development or in the approvals process
- 2,885 student housing units are also completed, under construction or in development through partnerships with post-secondary institutions
Total: 23,018 homes
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing