Greater Victoria housing provider looks west to help youth at risk

Groups teaming up to create youth housing on the West Shore

Homeless youth in the West Shore may soon have a place to hang their hats.

The long-sought goal of establishing temporary housing for wayward youth is on the brink of being met, as the Threshold Housing Society puts the final touches on plans to expand its reach into the western communities.

With final decisions being made in early August, it’s too early to announce details, Threshold executive director Mark Muldoon said, but the organization has been hard at work on the plan.

“We’re still having to put a few ducks in a row here,” he said.

Muldoon said there is a distinct lack of services for at-risk youth in the fast-growing area. Some agencies do a great job, but in some areas – especially housing — he sees a shortfall.

Housing is the most important to bridge, said Muldoon, as research shows having a stable place to stay is the lynchpin to a stable life.

“(It) keeps you in the mainstream and doesn’t get them marginalized, where they lose contact family, sports teams, church, school etc,” he said. “We’re anxious to fill that gap.”

As chair of the West Shore Youth Housing Task Force, Bill McElroy and others in the group have been working toward this goal for years, with lack of funding mainly holding them back.

They are now working with Threshold in their endeavour. “It’s a natural fit,” McElroy said.

“Our job was always just to get something going out here. We’ve done that by raising their awareness of the need.”

Threshold, a registered non-profit charity, already runs two houses in Greater Victoria for male and female youth from 16 to 21, working in conjunction with the B.C. Ministry for Children and Family Development.

Since 1992, the group has provided stable housing to about 300 youth.

The model of the housing for the West Shore hasn’t been announced yet, but Threshold supports both semi-independent and supported independent models.

Should plans work out, McElroy’s task force will alter its objective to look at establishing a youth shelter on the West Shore, somewhere where youth in need can sleep on a drop-in, temporary basis.

“Finding the emergency thing is not going to be as big a challenge as finding some kind of supportive housing. There’s a couple of churches (interested),” he said.

McElroy is still waiting to hear on potential funding from a foundation in Vancouver, which he describes as the “missing link” to cementing plans for the housing.

He said the money is ultimately earmarked for the Threshold project, should it come through.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com