BC Housing and Island Health, in partnership with the City of Victoria and non-profit operators, are taking measures to support people experiencing homelessness in Victoria who are at risk from COVID-19.
These measures include opening approximately 50 new shelter spaces across the city in the coming weeks to ensure there is enough capacity for people who need a place to self-isolate or recover from COVID-19.
Over the past several weeks, there has been an increase in the number of people in Victoria without a home who have contracted COVID-19. This is a very challenging situation that has required urgent collaboration between all social service agencies and partners in Victoria to ensure people can access the care and health services they need to recover. The risk of COVID transmission to the general public from people who are unsheltered or have unstable housing is low.
The new shelter spaces include an estimated 30 beds in several locations within existing shelter and housing stock that have recently opened or will be made available over the coming weeks.
An additional 20 pop-up spaces will be established at a new location that is anticipated to open in early November, pending the time required to train staff and set up the space. The location will not be disclosed publicly to ensure the privacy of people who use these spaces. Island Health will reach out to the immediate neighbourhood with more information in the coming weeks.
Similar to all BC Housing-funded sites, these new shelter spaces will have isolation plans guided by Island Health for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
These spaces are in addition to more than 500 supportive housing and shelter spaces that have opened throughout the city since 2018, as well as more than 430 additional permanent supportive homes that are already in development and 287 self-isolation spaces in Victoria. All of these existing sites continue to have isolation plans in place.