Krysten O’Coffey, housing intervention worker with Pacifica Housing is leading the Housing Crisis Prevention program, a new outreach service from the non-profit housing provider that aims to support families at risk of homelessness. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Greater Victoria non-profit housing provider Pacifica Housing is broadening its outreach for people at risk of homelessness with a new Housing Crisis Prevention program.

“We want to get out in front of this, and provide supports before people become homeless,” says executive director Dean Fortin. “The easiest way to help a homeless person is not to have them get homeless in the first place.”

Pacifica Housing offers affordable, supportive and subsidized housing for 2,000 residents from Nanaimo to Victoria, including low income families, people with disabilities and with mental health and addiction challenges.

“A lot of our residents, they’re working,” Fortin explains. “But they’re also working at $15 an hour, maybe trying to raise a couple of kids.”

Krysten O’Coffey, housing intervention worker at Pacifica, is heading up the program, which extends outreach services to individuals inside the housing provider’s network.

“Our programming hasn’t actually extended to families until now,” says O’Coffey, herself a former single mother of three. “We identified that we have a gap in our services where we are not actually [providing] one-on-one support to individuals that are living in our own complexes and our own buildings.”

Fortin points to a widening gap between the rich and poor, saying pressure builds when wage increases don’t match food cost increases. “BC Hydro costs have gone up 25 per cent in the last four years – these challenges are there.”

The goal of the new program is to get a handle on factors that could result in evictions, in order to keep families safely housed. Strengthening life skills, developing better coping strategies and building independence are vital for people in the transition from homelessness to stable housing, where Pacifica would like to see them stay.

“A lot of people just get used to a pretty low level of quality of life,” O’Coffey says. “And that’s the sad reality, there’s never enough money and there’s never enough food.”

Working with families she’s found that support services are often activated only after an extreme crisis or when homelessness is imminent. She says that’s reflective of a pretty big problem that we have in Victoria. “It’s okay to ask for support when it’s just a little bit hard.”

Funding for the program is a joint effort between Pacifica, the City of Victoria, United Way and the Victoria Real Estate Board.

The idea struck a chord with the City, whose representatives were enthusiastic to help, says Fortin, the former mayor. Their support allows Pacifica to support families, he says.

One of the goals is to prove the project is necessary and stable, but the outreach team says there is already every indication from their work with tenants that a program like this is needed. In Greater Victoria, the Point in Time Count reported 123 children were homeless in 2016, up from 116 in 2014.

“Anything we can do to help support tenants to succeed, to be good parents, good community members, to allow children to reach their potential, that’s really important to us,” Fortin says.

“It’s not just housing, it’s an opportunity to succeed. It’s turning housing into homes.”

kristyn.anthony@victorianews.com

Just Posted

Nearly a dozen coonhound puppies and their mother to reunite at Saanich park

Dogs’ former foster family initiated one-year reunion plans

Trio brings roller skating fever to Greater Victoria

Roller Skate Victoria offers workshops, summer camps and more

Government Street to be transformed into ‘people-priority’ zone

Victoria city council voted to limit traffic in the area by 2022

Central Saanich Fire Dept. now sun powered – good for budget and environment

Over production of power fed back to grid, results in credits over the winter

Concrete beams for McKenzie interchange set for installation this weekend

No lane closures expected during weekend work, says ministry

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Most Read