Funding to support people experiencing homelessness in the Comox Valley is having a measurable impact. The $1.093 million Strengthening Communities’ Grant awarded in 2021 is administered by the City of Courtenay on behalf of the region, and supports the Valley’s response to the increased demand and need for critical homelessness support services.
The city is working with an advisory committee with representatives from the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, Wachiay Friendship Centre and Comox Valley Transition Society. City staff and service providers gave a quarterly program update to council on Monday, Dec. 12.
To date, over $600,000 in grant funding has been distributed to service providers. The program has resulted in over 18,000 individual service interactions in the Comox Valley, 52 engagement events, and over 90 people receiving specialized training towards their work on the front lines supporting or interacting with individuals experiencing homelessness, addiction, or mental health challenges.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells said the grant funding has helped deliver much-needed programs throughout the region.
“We are so fortunate to have such dedicated and passionate service providers here in the Comox Valley,” said Wells. “Every one of these thousands of individual interactions represents a chance to connect someone to services that will help them with health, housing, and other essential social supports. I want to thank everyone involved with these programs, we appreciate everything you do for our community. You are truly changing lives.”
The report included statements from Comox Valley community members on the impact the services have had on their lives:
“It gives me a sense of accomplishment and self-pride. I find myself lost on the days it’s not open.”
“Connect is so important to us. I can always go there and get help. Without it I would never get to eat.”
“Having a reason to be a proud citizen because of outreach. To me it’s a part of the solution … I am part of that and in doing so it is self rewarding, and in a small way I am making up for the bad choices and pain I caused in addiction.”
The Strengthening Communities’ Grant supports:
•A Daytime Community Access Hub providing services six days a week focused on health, hygiene, personal safety, and administrative support to those in need, as well as security services;
•Rural outreach on Denman and Hornby islands facilitating connections to housing and support services;
•A peer-based outreach team including cleaning and site remediation activities;
•Community engagement and anti-stigma outreach;
•Training and capacity building activities for regional local government and First Nations staff, elected officials, outreach workers, and volunteers.