The City of Victoria is moving forward with steps to strike a multi-year agreement with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.
As part of the agreement, the city would contribute $100,000 to the coalition every year for the next five years to help implement its goals of ending chronic homelessness in the capital region by 2021.
Over the past few years, the coalition, which began in 2008, has undergone a governance review and has since identified a number of action-oriented steps to create affordable housing for the roughly 367 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Capital Regional District.
“What I do see is a refreshed coalition, a new coalition with a focus on action and real outcomes,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, who is also the co-chair of the coalition.
“(The coalition) led to a $60 to $90 million regional housing first program and now the coalition is the body to help lead the implementation of that program. Most of the people living in a state of chronic homelessness live in the City of Victoria, but the housing will be distributed across the region, which is fantastic.”
The coalition also presented its five-year, three-phased strategic plan. This year will be focused on identifying and implementing initiatives that better prevent or mitigate eviction events, including being discharged from correction and hospital facilities in addition to rapid re-housing, among other things.
Phase two builds off the momentum from the first phase and will focus on making deeper, long-term changes to the housing and health/social support system, and will work towards housing.
It also hopes to secure 178 units of housing — 88 units of which they hope to secure in 2019/2020 and 90 units in 2020/2021.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the deal during a meeting Thursday.
Coun. Marianne Alto said it’s the right way to go to ensure the organization has some consistency in funding, which will allow them to plan for the future.
Coun. Jeremy Loveday said the coalition has turned a new corner.
“It seems like the coalition has turned the corner and is doing work that is more action orientated. I do think that there does need to be accountability year after year,” he said.
Coun. Ben Isitt was also in favour of the motion, but isn’t persuaded the coalition has the resources to fully achieve its goal, noting the last time homelessness was ended it was through government.
“I’m not persuaded that the best place for them (the coalition) to reside is as a stand alone entity rather than embedded in the CRD’s housing program, in a way that’s more integrated in the governance framework,” he said.
“I think just because the coalition was set up this way, it’s performing well because of the people, not the organizational structure.”
In 2007, then-mayor Alan Lowe struck a 120-day task force to break down issues of homelessness in Victoria and develop a new delivery service model. Shortly after, the Coalition to End Homelessness was formed.