West Shore set as priority for housing society focussing on youth

A Victoria-based society is taking over the quest to establish temporary youth housing on the West Shore.

A Victoria-based society is taking over the quest to establish temporary youth housing on the West Shore, with a goal to have housing up and running by spring 2014.

In its recently released five-year strategic plan, Threshold Housing Society identified expansion into the West Shore as a key priority.

“We’re anxious to open up. We feel the need, the call has been heard, we’re trying to respond,” executive director Mark Muldoon said.

The society’s goal is to establish semi-independent housing on the West Shore for homeless youth who need lifeskill building and cannot live alone. With a live-in supervisor and access to programs, the project is hoped to house four to six youth for long-term transitional housing.

Threshold is now on the hunt to buy, build or rent a house for the project, along with the money to do it.

With Threshold taking hold of the reigns, Bill McElroy believes it’s time for the West Shore Emergency Youth Housing Task Force, which he chairs, to call it a day and celebrate its modest victories.

“Our thinking is, maybe we’ve achieved our goal and it’s time to wrap it up and support Threshold,” McElroy said. “We work very closely with Threshold, they come to our meetings, so I don’t see a problem.”

McElroy and a group of committed volunteers have been working steadily over the past few years to establish a place for homeless West Shore teens to go to get away from bad situations and find a chance for a second start. Funding issues and bureaucracy have been the primary stumbling blocks to any project coming together.

All money the task force raised through donations, about $6,800 in total, will go to Threshold and be earmarked for the West Shore initiative.

McElroy said he’ll continue to support Threshold with whatever help is needed.

Muldoon said McElroy’s efforts have been key to finding success.

“Bill has done an admirable job in corralling and encouraging public support,” Muldoon said. “He’s true blue to the community. He saw a deficit, he saw a gap in services and he went out and filled it. … That’s how great communities are built, by people like him.”

An even more permanent and varied facility is also in the longterm vision of the society.

One residence for a high-level youth that require some supervision  is in operation on the West Shore. The goal is to establish four more on the West Shore.

The society went to the provincial ministry of children and family development for funding, but were told no funding is available.

“That was very disappointing,” Muldoon said. “We’re not giving up. We’re small but mighty. We’re forging ahead with our own resources the best we can and we’ll be asking the community to help out.”

McElroy encourages residents to make a donation to Threshold Housing Society to help get the West Shore project off the ground.

“They still need help. It’s a good time of year to make a donation if you don’t want to see kids sleeping out in the great outdoors, or just coach surfing.”