Our Place has traditionally stayed open only until 6 p.m. through the spring, summer and early fall. New funding will allow it to remain open until 9 p.m. daily. File photo

Our Place has traditionally stayed open only until 6 p.m. through the spring, summer and early fall. New funding will allow it to remain open until 9 p.m. daily. File photo

Our Place Society receives funding to extend summer hours

BC Housing, Island Health and the City of Victoria jointly pledge $125,000

Victoria’s Our Place Society has received $125,000 to extend its summer hours.

Summer may be warm, but that doesn’t change the resources homeless people need, said Grant McKenzie, Our Place director of communications.

“What we’ve really noticed from the City and neighbours is seeing more people with no place to go in the summer,” he said.

“We know from the police that the streets are safer when our doors are open; it gives people a place to congregate.”

The one-time influx of cash from BC Housing, City of Victoria and Island Health will help Our Place extend its summer schedule to match its winter hours and see it open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It was previously open only until 6 p.m. between April 1 and Oct. 31.

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McKenzie said Our Place can stay open longer in winter because they get more donations, particularly during their coat campaign. The shorter summer hours have left a gap in service, as night shelters don’t open until 9:30 or 10 p.m., he said.

“People are gathering around Our Place because that’s where they feel safe because we have patrol guards. People are also concerned for their stuff, if they have a cart they can’t wheel it into a park and camp.”

In order to keep the hours longer throughout the summer, Our Place needed an extra $25,000 per month, for a total of $125,000.

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B.C. Housing offered to make a one-time donation of $75,000 with the caveat that other partners also come forward to help cover the costs. Island Health pledged $25,000 and on Thursday the City of Victoria approved giving $25,000 from the contingency fund.

The City is also looking to meet with BC Housing and Island Health to find longer-term solutions.

McKenzie said the extra funding will not only help Our Place’s clients, but also help maintain good relationships with the Society’s neighbours.

“We want to be the best neighbour we can be,” he said. “Sometimes homelessness can be a hard thing to wrap your head around, but for us it’s about treating people with respect and dignity where they are not being judged.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Our Place