BC Housing is contributing $525,000 to the Pidcock House emergency shelter that will enable the Salvation Army to expand its operations in the new year.
The retrofit includes a two-storey addition and a complete redesign of the entire shelter, which is located in Courtenay. Expansion plans include a commercial kitchen and dining room, six transition bedrooms for men and women, and a pet-friendly room.
“It opens up a brand new program for us,” community ministries director Brent Hobden said about the transition bedrooms. “We’re looking at probably a six- to nine-month program.”
Three men and three women will be selected. They will learn life-skills such as cooking and paying bills on time. The idea is to eventually move the individuals into an apartment, after which staff will continue to maintain a relationship with them.
“So really the whole program we’re looking at is an 18-month program,” Hobden said. “Very exciting. There will be one on-one coaching, and then there’ll be group coaching with all six at the same time.”
Pidcock House is a high-barrier, adult shelter containing 18 beds — 12 for men downstairs and six for women on the main floor. ‘High-barrier’ refers to a protocol where intoxicated individuals are sent for a walk before settling in for the night. The expansion project will bump the number of beds to 26, including the pet-friendly room.
“What we desperately need is to get rid of that cycle,” Hobden said.
“We have so many men that are coming into the shelter — some ladies as well — they’re staying here for 30 or 60 days, and they’re going off to another shelter, and they’re doing exactly the same thing. It’s a repetitive cycle.”
Comox Coun. Hugh MacKinnon notes that the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness advocates for transitional and supportive housing, as opposed to just beds.
“The power of the coalition is 17 groups coming together and advocating to government for initiatives like this,” he said.
Hobden is optimistic that more programs will come into fruition in the near future, thereby bringing better services to the Valley.
“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg we’re seeing right now,” he said. “Very exciting time, I think, for the Valley and for the less fortunate people.”