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

HousingPacifica Housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Sooke RCMP seek video after tires slashed on five vehicles

10 tires damaged in overnight incident in Sooke

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Loaded gun, hundreds of rounds ammunition seized in Victoria

Victoria police focus on Project Burnside Gorge Connect

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read