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 fall 2020.
"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. The White Road location will include up to 50 homes. A housing operator for this building will be selected in the coming months. Construction on both projects 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.
- BC Housing will reach out to the community with more options for engagement over the next few weeks.
To find out more about the projects, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing here: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/
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.