The Province is investing in programs to put people first. These include:
Homelessness in B.C.
- The first provincewide homeless-count report for B.C. was released in December 2018, based on counts from more than 24 communities during 2017 and 2018.
- According to the report, at least 7,655 people were experiencing homelessness.
- Indigenous peoples and former children in care are significantly over-represented in the statistics.
- The City of Vancouver completed a new count in 2019 that found 2,223 residents in Vancouver identified as homeless.
- The next provincewide homeless count-report will be completed in Spring 2020.
Housing for people experiencing homelessness
- The Province has committed to build more than 4,700 new supportive homes over 10 years for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness throughout B.C, with 2,000 already completed.
- Data collected six months after the first seven new supportive housing buildings opened in Vancouver and Surrey shows that housing with 24/7 support services and access to community health and wellness supports is substantially improving the quality of life for residents and reducing their use of emergency health services: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019MAH0132-001745
TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
The Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, released in March 2019, contains many actions to reduce and prevent homelessness, including providing funding to local governments and community organizations:
- $5 million to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for Poverty Reduction Planning and Action grants to support local government poverty reduction plans and initiatives. The first application intake closes Feb. 28, 2020. Local governments can apply for up to $25,000 to develop poverty reduction plans and up to $50,000 for poverty reduction projects. For regional applications, maximum funding is $150,000.
- $6 million grant to SPARC BC for Homelessness Community Action grants to help organizations address homelessness locally, in their communities. Organizations can apply for up to $50,000. Since the program launched in June 2019, 11 organizations have received funding.
- $10 million to Vancity to develop a provincewide rent bank system that will help to support existing rent banks and will help expand services into new communities.
- BCRentBank.ca includes information on rent banks, how they work and which communities have one.
The new Office of Homelessness Coordination is working across government and with community partners to deliver a co-ordinated response to homelessness. The office’s approach is based on four pillars:
- Prevention, to make homelessness a rare occurrence;
- An immediate response, to make the experience brief;
- Stability so that homelessness is a one-time occurrence; and
- Working together to co-ordinate actions on homelessness.
With BC Housing and other partners, the office is helping to co-ordinate the second provincewide homeless count, to be conducted in spring 2020.
A plan for better mental health and addictions support
- Better mental health and addictions services are an important step in the pathway to hope, healing and opportunity.
- The Premier and minister of Mental Health and Addictions released A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia in June 2019. The plan focuses on:
- improving wellness for children, youth and young adults;
- supporting mental health and wellness for Indigenous peoples;
- improving substance-use care; and
- improving access and quality of care across B.C.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2019 – for the first time in 10 years – daily rates were increased for licensed and registered mental-health and substance-use homes and facilities to better support service providers in delivering safe, appropriate care.
- In August 2019, regulations under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act were updated to create better protection and create more personalized services and supports for people living in supportive recovery homes throughout B.C.
- To support local responses to the overdose crisis that will meet the unique needs of the people on the ground, up to $3.5 million will be available to support community-led responses to the overdose crisis.
- Each community is invited to apply for up to $50,000 through a new municipal grant opportunity for projects that help save lives from overdose and improve community wellness.
- In addition, funding for 35 Community Action Teams (CATs), including 16 new teams, will support the development of local, integrated planning and strategies to address the overdose crisis.
TogetherBC, British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy
Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program: https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness
To read A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf
For a map of all announced supportive housing projects, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
Homelessness Community Action Grants: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/resources/homelessness-community-action-grants/
Poverty reduction planning grants: https://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/lgps/poverty-reduction.html
Learn more about rent banks in B.C.: https://www.bcrentbank.ca