Province secures spaces for people living outdoors in Victoria


March 31, 2021

VICTORIA - The Province, through BC Housing, has purchased a building with about 70 new temporary indoor shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.

Located at 225 Russell St., the building is undergoing renovations to improve the site's ability to operate as a temporary shelter and provide wraparound supports for residents. Residents will move into the building before the end of April once renovations are completed.

"In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan," said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. "While this purchase helps us reach our initial goal of dignified shelter by the end of next month, the site will also support our work to deliver stable, safe, long-term homes for people living in parks in Victoria when it is ultimately redeveloped."

This purchase is part of the commitment between the Province and City of Victoria to move more than 200 people currently living in encampments indoors by April 30, 2021. Since January 2021, the Province, City of Victoria and outreach workers have partnered to move 116 people experiencing homelessness throughout Victoria into supportive housing units and shelter spaces, including Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and the Capital City Centre Hotel.

Our Place Society, an experienced non-profit operator, will operate the building and provide support services including daily meals, access to sanitary and hygiene facilities, and storage for belongings. Staff will provide residents with access and referral to health and wellness programs.

The temporary shelter will remain open for 18 months and, if needed, may be extended for an additional six months. Following its use as a temporary shelter, BC Housing will engage the community on a redevelopment proposal for supportive housing, which will follow the municipal rezoning process.

"This property purchase by BC Housing is the Province keeping its commitment to ensuring people currently sheltering in parks are offered an indoor space by the end of April as a pathway to permanent housing," said Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria. "I want to thank the Province and the residents of Vic West for welcoming some of the region's most vulnerable residents on a temporary basis as they begin their journey to housing. We look forward to working with the Province and neighbourhood residents on the long-term plan for the site."

BC Housing will reach out to neighbourhood associations, local businesses and other stakeholders and will be inviting neighbours to a virtual information session to learn more about the project.

Consultation details will be shared on BC Housing's Let's Talk Housing page: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/victoria-225-russell

Quotes:

Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill -

"These shelter spaces are an important investment in our community, as they provide opportunities for our most vulnerable to access health and wellness programs. We are working hard to offer those camping in parks access to safe, indoor shelter, and this announcement goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, which is great news for our community."

Julian Daly, chief executive officer, Our Place Society -

"We are very happy to partner and support the sheltering of people who have been living precariously in our parks. We want all our shelter residents to feel a sense of hope and belonging and for them to know we will be supporting them on their path to permanent housing. We also look forward to connecting with our neighbours, addressing any concerns they may have and being a positive addition to the Vic West community."

Quick Facts:

  • The Province invested approximately $9.4 million for the purchase and renovation of the building, as well as approximately $2 million in annual operating costs.
  • In addition, the Province has recently announced more than 280 new spaces in the Capital Regional District (CRD), including more than 190 supportive housing units in Victoria.
  • Including these supportive homes, the Province has more than 3,000 homes either completed or underway in the CRD, including more than 900 underway in Victoria.

Learn More:

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/

To learn more about the new supportive homes underway in Victoria, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/news?newsId=1479156905703 

To learn more about the commitment between the Province and City of Victoria to end encampments, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/news?newsId=1479156901769

A backgrounder follows.

Contacts:

Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572

BC Housing
Media Relations
media@bchousing.org

Bill Eisenhauer
Media Relations
City of Victoria
beisenhauer@victoria.ca

BACKGROUNDER

Services, supports provided for supportive housing

All new supportive 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:

  • both 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;
  • meals;
  • 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
  • no-cost laundry services, either on or off site.

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org