Oct. 7-13 is Homelessness Action Week in British Columbia. Throughout the week, provincial and local governments along with community organizations will be holding events to raise awareness and highlight the work being done to end homelessness in our communities.
Homelessness Action Week is a time to focus on the work being done each day to help people find housing and rebuild their lives. Whether it's reaching out to people living on the street, providing links to mental health and addiction services, helping someone find a safer place to stay, or helping families to stabilize their housing situation, the B.C. government works with over 800 partners provincewide to provide support for those who need it.
Providing housing and supports to those in greatest need are key priorities of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC. Since 2006, the B.C. government has doubled the number of provincially subsidized apartments and shelter spaces available for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. There are 1,600 year-round emergency shelter spaces available, extreme-weather shelters that open during the cold winter months and more than 2,200 new supportive housing units being built through partnerships with local governments.
Homelessness Action Week is an opportunity to learn about homelessness, the work being done and how to get involved. You can find more information on what the B.C. government is doing at: www.bchousing.org
Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing -
"Homelessness Action Week is a time to highlight the work being done to end homelessness."
"Since the release of our housing strategy in 2006, we've been able to provide thousands of people with chances to stabilize and rebuild their lives. This would not have been possible without the help of numerous partners who share our commitment for providing new opportunities and hope when it's needed most."
Leslie Remund, acting executive director, RainCity Housing and Support Society -
"Our organization has been providing housing, support and opportunities for people in the Lower Mainland since 1982. With financial support from the B.C. government, we have been able to build new, much-needed developments like The Lux in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and provide outreach services to people living on street. Homelessness Action Week is an opportunity to demonstrate the positive outcomes we can achieve when we work together."
Shelley Cook, executive director, John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan -
"This past year saw the opening of New Gate Apartments in Kelowna, a 49-unit supportive housing development for men and women at risk of homelessness. New Gate was made possible as a result of funding provided through the provincial housing strategy and complements other housing projects we've developed to address homelessness in our region."
"Working together with our community partners, we're starting to see some remarkable changes, and it's gratifying when you see people who are rebuilding their lives."
- Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested $3.2 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families.
- This year, more than 97,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
- Last fiscal year, approximately $80 million was provided to ensure that emergency shelters are available in communities throughout B.C. This includes 1,600 permanent, year-round shelter beds as well as more than 1,300 extreme weather and temporary shelter spaces in communities across B.C. during the winter months.
- Between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, more than 7,600 people in the province have been helped to move off the streets and into permanent housing as a result of the Homeless Outreach Program (including Aboriginal Outreach) and Emergency Shelter Program.
- Since 2001, more than 6,600 new housing units for the homeless and emergency shelter spaces have been completed or are in development.
- Through the Aboriginal Housing Initiative launched in 2007, more than 200 units of off-reserve housing are being built to create safe, secure and culturally appropriate housing for youth, women, elders and those struggling with addiction.
To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness, visit: www.bchousing.org
To read how the provincial housing strategy is helping British Columbians, visit: http://www.bchousing.org/Media/Stories
Provincially subsidized housing, Northern Region
Last fiscal year, over $32 million was provided to support subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 4,800 households in the Northern region. This includes providing support for more than 2,000 senior households and over 1,800 family households.
- Rental Assistance Program (RAP) was introduced in 2006 to help low-income working families with the cost of private market rental housing. Working families earning up to $35,000 a year can receive direct rent subsidies ranging from $50 up to $765 per month. Over 300 low-income working families have received assistance through the program. The average monthly subsidy is $405.
- Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) helps make housing more affordable for low-income seniors who rent in the private market. The average monthly subsidy is $158. Over 610 seniors' households in the region receive benefits.
Emergency Shelters and Homeless Outreach
* There are more than 510 year-round emergency shelter spaces, subsidized units and rent supplements throughout the region for those who are homeless. Annual funding is almost $8 million.
- Last year, more than 200 homeless people were provided with stable housing through the Homeless Outreach and Aboriginal Homeless Outreach Programs. The program is available in the following communities: Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Terrace and Vanderhoof.
Support for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities
- Senior Rental Housing provides apartments for those who are able to live independently with an affordable option for staying in their home communities. Since 2009, 180 units have been completed.
- Assisted Living gives seniors the help they need to continue living independently in their home communities near family and friends - approximately 240 units have been completed.
- Seniors Supportive Housing provides specially modified rental housing in selected subsidized housing developments for seniors and people with disabilities. Close to 80 existing seniors' units are being converted under the program.
- The B.C. government supports more than 880 units of dedicated Aboriginal Housing in the region.
Women's Transition Housing and Support Services
- In the region, there are approximately 150 transition housing beds and four safe home programs to support women (with or without dependent children) who have experienced abuse or are at risk of experiencing abuse.
Housing highlights since 2006, Northern Region
Seasons House (Quesnel, 2008) - Transitional housing and emergency shelter beds for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Ksan Residence and Shelter (Terrace, 2009) - Emergency shelter beds and transitional housing units for homeless individuals.
Friendship Lodge (Prince George, 2009) - Supportive housing for men and women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with mental health and addiction issues.
Nutesne Yoh (Prince George, 2009) - Supportive housing for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with mental health and addiction issues.
Jubilee Place (Williams Lake, 2010) - Housing with integrated support services for individuals at risk of homelessness.