A new crowdfunding campaign is calling on Victoria residents to help provide homeless people with safe, warm accommodation this winter.
A collaboration between Mayor Lisa Helps, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and Aryze Developments, Hey Neighbour is on a mission to raise $500,000 to build 30 housing units.
The 160 square-foot units will be built out of repurposed shipping containers and include a bed, desk, hot plate, fridge, shared shower and washroom facilities and the potential for an outdoor shared kitchen.
“No one should be living in a park in the middle of a global health pandemic in a country as prosperous as Canada,” Helps said.
The campaign is part of a motion the City of Victoria passed on Nov. 12 with the longer-term plan to “offer housing and indoor shelter with a path to permanent housing for everyone currently sheltered in city parks by March 31, 2021.”
The transition units will be a big step up from tenting in a park, Luke Mari, a partner at Aryze Developments, explained. They will offer a dry, heated space with power, a locking door and access to hygiene facilities.
|A rendering of what the Hey Neighbour community could look like upon completion. (Courtesy of Aryze Developments)|
The Hey Neighbour community will also provide opportunities for residents to learn new skills and engage in social enterprise, like bicycle repair shops and community gardens.
Organizers said they have a few potential sites for the pilot project in mind, but haven’t settled on one yet.
In March, there were 1,523 homeless individuals in Greater Victoria according to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count. Organizers say this number should be treated as an under-estimate as some people choose not to participate in the survey and others are experiencing “hidden” homelessness.
Anyone interested in donating can do so through the Canada Helps campaign at canadahelps.org. Aryze Developments has pledged to donate $1, up to $10,000, for every comment or share of their posts related to the Hey Neighbour campaign.