The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness notes with hope the provincial government’s commitments to increase supports for people experiencing homelessness – particularly its commitments to youth.
The 2022 Budget commits $35 million over the next three years to respond to the heightened risk of homelessness faced by former youth in care. The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness hopes to see this commitment - which includes permanent housing, rent supplements, and expanded support services like life-skills programming and counselling – rolled out across the Capital Region. The province’s pledge aligns with knowledge gained from The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness’s 2018 Point in Time count, which found that more than half of respondents had first experienced homelessness as a youth and more than 40 per cent of respondents had their first experience of homelessness when they were under 18 years old.
The government’s promise to expand supports for youth beyond their 19th birthday is a vital step in the right direction. Youth leaving government care often enter homelessness within one year. More shockingly, 35 per cent are homeless in less than one month.
“From consultations with our Youth Task Force, we know that early intervention is critical,” says Janine Theobald, Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness director of collaborative engagement. “Young people who bridge the youth and adult age brackets need housing and emotional support, plus services that meet them where they’re at. Investing in youth may be the difference in preventing lifelong experiences of chronic homelessness.”
The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is also excited by the opportunity presented by the allocation of $100 million for the Community Housing Fund, as well as investments to double the current number of community integration specialists. But even though these investments are critical, so too is the need for a budget that helps people to not only remain housed but become included members of their community. Eviction prevention and community inclusion requires ongoing, peer-based support, cultural services, and reliable, ongoing, and integrated support services. Funding is necessary to ensure these specialized support services are researched, developed, piloted, and implemented to meet the unique social and cultural needs of priority population groups.
Though more is needed, the province’s inclusion of funding for homelessness response and prevention in the 2022 budget is a sign of hope that our government is beginning to acknowledge the root systemic causes of the ongoing homelessness crisis. As we wait to see if and how these investments will be rolled out, The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness will continue to advocate for the tangible action-based system changes and supports needed to reach functional zero in the Capital Region.
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The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is a partnership of local service providers, non-profit organizations, all levels of government, and the business, post-secondary, and faith communities.
For more information:
Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness