By Rich Coleman
Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Housing
VICTORIA - As we spent time with friends and family this past weekend, we should keep in mind there are people in our communities who are unable to find affordable housing, or need to seek support at shelters on a regular basis.
Oct. 12-18 is Homelessness Action Week in B.C., and it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the individuals and organizations in Metro Vancouver that dedicate their time and effort to help end homelessness in our communities.
We believe affordable housing is key to reducing homelessness in Metro Vancouver. Last year, the provincial government provided more than $219 million in housing support and services - including over $112 million for more than 7,300 housing units in the area. In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), the Province provided over $49 million to support more than 3,000 housing units for the homeless.
Since 2007, the B.C. government has also purchased 24 Single Room Occupancy buildings in Vancouver, 23 of which are in the Downtown Eastside and surrounding vicinity - protecting close to 1,500 affordable housing units. We are now investing $143.3 million to renovate 13 of these buildings in the DTES through a public-private partnership, improving the quality of life for nearly 900 residents.
The Province’s homelessness outreach teams provide a support-system that provides help across the entire housing spectrum, connecting individuals with addiction services, health services and income assistance. In the Metro region, there are more than 1,000 permanent year-round emergency shelter spaces. In addition, there are more than 5,600 subsidized units for the homeless. We also provided close to 680 homeless rent supplements last year to help people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, to find housing in the private market.
We also support thousands of hard working, low-income families through our Rental Assistance Program. Last year we assisted over 6,000 families with rental supplements to help make housing more affordable.
Seniors in our communities are supported through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, providing rental assistance to almost 9,000 low-to-moderate income seniors. This year - in partnership with the Government of Canada, the District of West Vancouver and the Kiwanis Seniors Housing and Community Services Society - we opened the newly redeveloped Kiwanis Garden Village, providing more than 300 affordable apartments for seniors in West Vancouver.
These achievements are key examples of the importance of partnerships between community organizations and government. By working together we are able to provide housing supports based on individual need, and we’re able build an inclusive, welcoming community for everyone.
Since 2006, more than 100,000 households in British Columbia have benefitted from a variety of provincial housing options. This achievement would not be possible without the support and dedication of our partners, community organizations, staff and volunteers. They are the people that are making a difference right here at home - for all of us.
Find out more about the Province’s housing investments in Metro Vancouver:www.housingmattersbc.ca/docs/fs_Metro_Region.pdf