September 15, 2015
VICTORIA, BC — Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday are proposing a regional funding plan to end homelessness, levying $11 per household per year through the Capital Regional Hospital District to end homelessness by 2018.
The proposal for the Regional Housing First Strategy, which Victoria City Council will debate on Thursday, proposes that the Capital Regional Hospital District serve as the lead agency, in partnership with social service providers and local, provincial and federal authorities, to build 367 units of new housing with supports, which the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness estimates to be the number of chronic shelter users requiring housing.
"We believe that this investment by the region would substantially improve health outcomes for people who are chronically homeless," says Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt. "A regional housing first strategy would have the added benefit of reducing the impacts of homelessness and outdoor sheltering on the wider community and providing an opportunity for cost-savings on provincial hospitalization, criminal justice and incarceration costs, and municipal policing, parks and street maintenance costs."
The proposal includes a request to the federal government for a contribution toward the capital costs of the 367 units of housing, to reduce or eliminate the requirement for a local contribution, consistent with the Government of Canada's traditional role "supporting the housing needs of Canadians."
The proposal requests that the provincial government contribute $7.73-million annually in operating costs toward the support services required to assist the "hardest to house" in maintaining stable housing, a model that currently exists in several buildings funded by the province around the Capital Region operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society and the Pacifica Housing Society.
"We hope that Victoria City Council and the Capital Regional Hospital District Board will recognize the wisdom of making this investment of $11 per household per year, to provide a safe and supportive home for the most marginalized members of our community," says Victoria Councillor Jeremy Loveday, who also serves on the Leadership Council of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. "By acting regionally, we can tackle homelessness through a very modest contribution from the people who currently have housing in the Capital Region, improving the health outcomes for everyone."
The proposal for a Regional Housing First Strategy arose from debate in the region in recent months over the most appropriate response to homelessness, including options for micro-housing and temporary tenting areas. Helps, Isitt and Loveday say they heard clearly from the public that investing in long-term housing was preferable to expenditures on interim options, which spurred the detailed costing of the funding proposal to eliminate homelessness through regional action.
For further information, contact:
Mayor Lisa Helps, 250-661-2708
Councillor Ben Isitt, 250-882-9203
Councillor Jeremy Loveday, 250-634-2327