Homeless encampment in Courtenay. File photo

Homeless encampment in Courtenay. File photo

Comox Valley directors approve $350,000 requisition to support the homeless

A regional Homelessness Supports Service has reached its seventh year of operation. With participation from Courtenay, Cumberland and the rural areas, the service provides money to non-government organizations based on a five-year action plan. The CV Coalition to End Homelessness recommends funding allocations for projects.

The coalition consists of 37 member agencies that arrange community responses to homelessness and the need for affordable housing. Last year, Sunday Station, the Unhoused Society, the CV Pride Society, the Hornby Island Housing Society and St. Vincent De Paul became members.

“It was great to see those additions,” coalition co-ordinator Angela Fletcher said at the March 8 CVRD board meeting.

Highlights from 2021 include the opening of Habitat for Humanity’s development on Lake Trail Road, the approval of Cypress Gardens in Comox and Wachiay’s housing development in Courtenay, support for Rainbow House and movement towards development of Darry’s House on Mission Road.

“That’s a transitional housing unit for women and children,” Fletcher said of Darry’s House.

A coalition initiative operated by the CV Transition Society is Connect, a drop-in program that had more than 14,000 visits this year. There were also 17,000-plus visits to a shower service, and 1600-plus people seeking emergency overnight shelter.

“That would be about 10 people a night from October until December,” Fletcher said.

READ: Courtenay council considers extending overnight service at warming centre

Funds from a Strengthening Communities Grant have helped to increase hours and service at Connect, and to open the Community Cares Warming Centre at the Salvation Army Church in Courtenay. The latter has had more than 1,000 visits since it started Jan. 21. It’s expected to operate until April 1.

“We look forward to implementing more peer projects as well as rural outreach,” Fletcher said.

This year, Habitat for Humanity is seeking funds to house 12 families at a new build on Piercy Avenue, Wachiay plans to construct 40 suites and one bedrooms for elders and low-income seniors, and the CVTS is seeking costs for a drop-in centre for the unsheltered.

Staff recommend $10,000 for the Habitat proposal and $115,000 for Wachiay. Instead of the drop-in, staff propose to reimburse CVTS $91,028 for operations at Connect from September to January.

“I guess everybody does realize this is one big slippery slope that there’s no way out of,” Area C director Edwin Grieve said. “It’s a pit you can’t fill with money. Really, we need to come up with a comprehensive solution to our social funding.”

He feels it’s a cop out by the B.C. government to funnel money through the CVRD into the non-profits.

“We do have an obligation to our citizens, but what we see right now is a patchwork,” Grieve said. “We’re going to have to get our heads around this in the next year or so, and have one service that’s going to do the job.”

The board approved a 2022 requisition of $350,000, with some of the money unallocated for the time being. The tax impact is estimated to be $6.96 for a home assessed at $600,000.

Staff will report back with a revised plan.


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