Group grateful for help keeping people off Comox Valley streets

Bob Galligan is one of the success stories for the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society. - File photo
Bob Galligan is one of the success stories for the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society.
— image credit: File photo

The Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society has been able to increase the size of its scattered housing program with funding assistance from the Comox Valley Regional District.

Dawn to Dawn supports marginalized individuals by using rental housing in Courtenay and Comox, including Maple Pool Campsite’s campground facilities. Regional district funds — which came from a one-time grant from the Vancouver Island Health Authority — have helped the organization exceed its goal of housing 18 clients over a two-year period.

"You've made a huge difference to the people we're housing," Dawn to Dawn outreach worker Grant Shilling told the CVRD committee of the whole Tuesday.

Since last spring, Dawn to Dawn has housed 23 individuals. Three clients have moved on to school or work and can now afford accommodation. The society, in turn, has taken on three new clients and maintained its 23-person base.

There are numerous Dawn to Dawn success stories, including a former crack addict who has remained clean and retained custody of her granddaughter, and a once-suicidal girl now housed and enrolled in a college welding program.

And there's Bob Galligan, also known as Bob the Bum, a recovered alcoholic who lives in a Comox suite after years on the street.

"We've been through an awful lot with Bob," Shilling said, noting an increased number of seniors needing a roof over their heads. "I find it heartbreaking when I deal with with seniors I can't find housing for."

Dawn to Dawn president Richard Clarke said scattered housing is a "cost-effective way" of ending homelessness. However, grant funding ends in September.

"We can't replace these funds," he said, noting a "dire shortage" of one-bedroom and studio apartments.

The program's average monthly cost over the first year was $14,500. Most clients contribute $375 towards monthly rent. District funds contributed $7,250 per month.

Along with housing, the society also offers recreational opportunities including bowling and soccer, for which the CVRD has provided smaller amounts of funding. Two members of the Maple Pool United street soccer team have attended the past two Homeless World Cup competitions in Mexico and Poland.

Shilling, who started the soccer program, hopes to send a third member to this year's tournament in Chile.

Shilling has also initiated a book club.

Courtenay director Manno Theos expressed his gratitude to Dawn to Dawn, both for its housing and recreation programs.

"I strongly support this organization," fellow Courtenay director Starr Winchester said. "I can't say enough about them and what they've done for our most vulnerable citizens."

The board approved her motion to send a letter to VIHA chair Don Hubbard — as well as BC Housing, MLA Don McRae and MP John Duncan — requesting continued financial support for Dawn to Dawn.


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