Since 2016, 62 units of affordable housing have been added to the Comox Valley due to a Homelessness and Supports Service tax. File photo

Tax dollars support range of affordable housing projects

The Comox Valley Regional District board has approved an additional $80,000 — for a total of $230,000 — for the 2019 Homelessness and Supports Service requisition. The service was established after a 2015 referendum for a tax to address homelessness passed.

The Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society is to receive $90,000 towards purchase of a rent-geared-to-income condo unit.

“Somewhere in the Valley, ideally a two-bedroom unit, so we can house a small family,” Dawn to Dawn president Richard Clarke said. “The funds won’t be available until August, so hopefully we find something appropriate and affordable in the fall.”

The Comox Valley Transition Society will receive $15,000 to help purchase rent-geared-to-income four-plexes.

The Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, with the Transition Society as the fiscal host, will receive $60,000 towards planning and renovation of a permanent drop-in centre. The coalition is seeking a building where homeless individuals or those at-risk can escape harsh weather, and access washrooms, showers, laundry, phones, harm reduction supplies and other immediate supports.

“We plan to offer programming to the new space, to reach even more homeless or at-risk, and to improve self-sufficiency, and a sense of belonging through social connection, referrals to community agencies, access to support workers, and education opportunities,” coalition co-ordinator Andrea Cupelli said.

The coalition expects a building will be found this year. Volunteer help will be welcomed to help renovate and prepare the space.

Also in line for money is Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North, which has been granted $60,000 towards construction of two more houses at its Lake Trail Road build in Courtenay. The first two homeowners were welcomed in a ceremony last winter at the complex, which will eventually contain 10 units.

“We are very excited to be a part of the coalition,” Habitat’s executive director Pat McKenna said. “Such good things are happening in our community.”

Another beneficiary is L’Arche Comox Valley, which receives $5,000 towards pre-construction planning costs for a 12-18 unit rent-geared-to-income housing facility. Ideally, it would be built close to the I Belong Centre on Grieve Avenue in Courtenay.

“In the I Belong Centre, we already have six apartments for adults who have developmental disabilities, but can live semi-independently,” said Tony Reynolds, a L’Arche volunteer and past board chair. “They have done so remarkably well the last 18 months…Being close to the I Belong Centre, they really have become part of a community of people that encourage them and support them. We want to expand this and have the availability for others to have the same opportunity. If we had it in Comox, it kind of breaks that tie.”

Though L’Arche board members have yet to find a site for the facility, they have their eyes on a couple of locations.

Since 2016 — with money from the Homelessness Supports Service fund, and the annual affordable housing contribution from the Town of Comox — coalition member agencies have built 62 housing units, ranging from homes for women and children escaping domestic violence, supported living for youth 17-22, women in recovery, families, and other individuals in need of subsidized and affordable housing.

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