Not only does he see it in his work everyday, but there is now an added visual reminder for Grant Shilling of the lack of supportive housing in the Comox Valley.
Shilling, the residential support program worker for Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society, is looking to the community for help repair some substantial damage to suites, caused by some of the society’s clients.
“I’m remaining optimistic,” he said, and added there are unprecedented expenses associated with the damage.
Dawn to Dawn is a Comox Valley grassroots organization, which provides subsidized housing in market rental apartments along with advocacy. Shilling explained they use a “scattered housing model” where the organization works with property managers to place clients into rental suites.
“Sometimes they are on their third or fourth chance, and sometimes it just doesn’t jive in that situation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be housed.”
He noted what is happening with Dawn to Dawn is that clients are getting second chances often in recovery. Sometimes, he explained, it’s mothers or fathers who are motivated to get their children back, but need to meet the condition of having housing.
“In the street community, there’s a real sense of solidarity; to bring your brother or sister under your wing. In two apartments, things have really gone south.”
He said it is difficult to find a balance between having people comply and constantly monitoring their behaviour.
“I’m not there 24/7 which is why we need supportive housing. We are the only region on Vancouver Island without (it). In Nanaimo, which has about 30,000 more people than we do, they have 160 units of supportive housing. We need qualified workers on site 24/7 to deal with the various needs of clients.”
He is calling on the provincial government, along with municipal governments within the Valley to help.Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard said while she can’t mention specific locations, the NDP government has committed $291 million in funding for new supporting housing.
“The housing is in the vein of modular homes, with 2,000 units over the next two year. I can’t say where they will all go, but it’s a first step in recognizing the needs.”
In the meantime, Shilling is asking for any tradesperson – carpenter, plumber, etc. – who may want to assist on repairs to a suite to contact him directly. Work would be required after Oct.1. Contact Shilling at: firstname.lastname@example.org.