Courtenay council is supporting a request from the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness for BC Housing to collaborate with local governments to create permanent housing for vulnerable populations.
The coalition — which consists of 29 member agencies — is requesting temporary emergency shelter spaces for an additional 50 individuals this fall and winter, and 100 permanent supportive housing units in two buildings, each containing 50 units.
The coalition notes the importance of including funding for on-site supports from staff and outside agencies that can bring services to residents to help meet specific goals.
“There is a need for a continuum of supportive housing options for a wide demographic including Indigenous people, women, couples, seniors and for those who would prefer a facility where residents refrain from using substances,” coalition co-ordinator Andrea Cupelli states in a letter to BC Housing. “We are at a critical point in time in the pandemic where emergency shelter units are still needed as the weather gets cold and COVID-19 cases ramp up, and there is greater need for permanent housing.”
The coalition estimates there are 10-15 encampments, each containing one to six tents, in Courtenay, and other small encampments throughout the regional district.
“With this horrendous weather lately, I can’t even imagine trying to be in a tent right now,” Coun. Wendy Morin said at committee of the whole Nov. 30. “I’m really hopeful that we’ll get this support into the Valley, especially with the COVID numbers increasing. There’s a lot of health and safety issues that are amplified.”
The 2020 Point in Time Count identified 132 people who were experiencing homelessness in the Comox Valley. Nearly 70 per cent fell into the 25- to 54-year age bracket. Men accounted for 59 per cent of the total number.
The 2018 PiT count identified 117 individuals.