British Columbians experiencing or at-risk of homelessness will benefit from expanded services, supports, and more timely access to care, thanks to new investments in Budget 2022.
“Today, there are thousands of people who have a home and the supports they need because of our government’s investments in supportive housing. But homelessness continues to grow and there’s much more work to do - even as we continue to try to catch up from the years of the old government not building enough adequate housing,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “Budget 2022 makes significant new investments to address the root causes of homelessness to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place, and get people into stable and permanent housing.”
Homelessness is a significant issue affecting people and communities throughout B.C. In response, the Government of B.C. is investing $633 million in new initiatives aimed at helping prevent and reduce chronic homelessness in the province.
- $35 million over three years for new and increased supports for young people in government care until the age of 27, including a new financial supplement, a no-limit earnings exemption, help with the cost of housing, improved access to transition workers, enhanced life skills and mental-health programs, and better medical benefits.
- $600-per-month rent supplements with integrated health and social supports that will help more than 3,000 people with low incomes access housing in the private market over the next three years.
- More than doubling the current number of community integration specialists to help people experiencing homelessness navigate government programs and available supports in communities throughout the province.
- $164 million over three years to expand government’s complex-care housing program, to help B.C.’s most vulnerable people with complex health, mental health and substance-use challenges who may need a level of support that goes beyond what the current model of supportive housing can provide.
- $264 million over three years for a permanent housing plan to ensure the approximately 3,000 people who were temporarily housed during the COVID-19 pandemic do not return to homelessness.
Implementation of these initiatives will begin this year.
"The staff and youth at A Way Home Kamloops are relieved to hear about the increases in funding and support coming. We are very heartened that the relevant ministries are coming together to solve issues and address gaps for some of the most under-served members of our communities,” said Tangie Genshorek, executive director, A Way Home Kamloops. “Youth who are transitioning out of government care are particularly vulnerable, and we are grateful that our calls to action are being heard. We would also like to congratulate those who have worked very hard to make these significant changes in Budget 2022 happen. Thank you for listening, thank you for caring.”
The new funding builds on the Province’s response to homelessness and its major investments in housing, health and social supports during the pandemic, including thousands of additional shelter spaces, temporary self-isolation spaces and new supportive housing.
"These investments are a good start towards a comprehensive strategy, with more needed to address the root causes of homelessness," said Stephen D'Souza, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC. "The recent point-in-time count identified that 38% of those experiencing homelessness in B.C. are unsheltered, either living outside, couch-surfing or in a vehicle. This cross-government approach can be transformative, moving B.C. in the direction of realizing the right to housing and ensuring people have access to the necessary supports to stay housed."
These investments are part of government’s broader provincial homelessness strategy, which will be released in 2022.
Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction –
“We’re more than doubling the number of community integration specialists to better help people access the services they need. As well, we’re introducing a change to our shelter allowance to provide a new minimum base rate and will be funding tenant startup kits to assist people moving from homelessness into more stable housing.”
Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“Just as most parents continue supporting their children after they reach age 19, young people from care also need supports to help them thrive as they transition into adulthood. We are working across government to ensure that youth have what they need to be successful when they are ready to be independent. The new investments under Budget 2022 will provide much-needed financial, housing, education and social supports to ensure young people from care – who are disproportionately represented in the homeless population – get the help they need.”
Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions –
“Complex-care housing is a groundbreaking approach to address the needs of people who have overlapping mental-health challenges, substance-use issues, trauma and acquired brain injuries, who are often left homeless or risking eviction. People who access complex -care housing get supports where they live, including services from nurses, peer workers, social workers, and other health professionals. With Budget 2022’s investment of $164 million, our government is expanding complex care housing across the province.”
To learn more about how government is compiling and analyzing data on homelessness, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022AG0035-000364.
For more information on Budget 2022, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022FIN0005-000251
To learn more about the Province’s complex-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022MMHA0005-000083
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/
A backgrounder follows.