A local developer and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness are joining forces to raise $500,000 to convert 30 shipping containers into a temporary “tiny homes” village.

Luke Mari of Aryze Developments said he approached the coalition ­several months ago in response to the ongoing debate about people camping in city parks. The idea, he said, was to find an intermediary step between tents and permanent homes.

“We thought, what is an interim, rapid solution using existing resources?” he said. “So shipping containers. We, at Aryze, use them for our site construction offices. I was staring at this new one that we just had delivered and I was , like, ‘Why can’t someone live in there temporarily?’

“It’s waterproof. It’s fireproof. It’s heated. We can add windows to these and we can have a common shower facility. That’s really where it started.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who co-chairs the coalition, embraced the idea and will help launch the “Hey Neighbour!” crowdfunding campaign for the project today on CanadaHelps.org.

She said “tiny home villages” have been done successfully in other ­communities. “So why not here in the middle of a pandemic where we can move people pretty rapidly from ­outside to inside in a transitional way?”

A location for the village has yet to be determined, but both Helps and Mari said it could be on either private or city-owned land as a temporary solution to the city’s homelessness issue.

“It’s not meant to be permanent,” Mari said. “What this is meant to do is buy B.C. Housing or others time to be able to school up their modular housing program or if they have to acquire another hotel or build a supportive housing project.”

He said Aryze has donated time, labour and resources to find a container supplier and develop designs that would meet fire and safety codes. Each unit would be 160 square feet with a bed, desk, hot plate, fridge and shared shower and washroom facilities.

“We can build one of these a day,” he said. “So once the assembly line is up and running, we can pound out 30 homes in a month, which is just unheard of.”

The timeline for the project hinges on how quickly the coalition is able to raise the money. “I’m hoping that by end of December we have what we need to place our order and to have people living in these by the first week of February,” Mari said.

In addition to supporting the fundraising, the Coalition to End Homelessness will work with its other partners to make sure that people who move into the tiny homes have the necessary mental health, vocational, peer and other supports they need, said Janine Theobald, inclusion and collaboration manager.

“So that might be supporting individuals who are living at the space to be part of the programming delivery itself,” she said.

Kelly Roth, executive director, said the coalition is always exploring multiple housing options for people and welcomed Aryze’s involvement. “The idea of tiny homes and the possibility of having a developer interested in actually supporting that was very exciting to us — just because it’s not something that we’d be able to do on our own,” she said.

Mari said Aryze gets labelled as a developer. “But, at the end of the day, we see ourselves as home builders, as builders of community. And how can we call ourselves home builders with people living in parks?”


Article: Developer, coalition pitch ‘tiny homes’ for homeless, using shipping containers

Source: Times Colonist


A look into the opening hour of #ProjectConnect2020.

Project Connect is a day of community, human connection and knowledge sharing. We want to thank Brianna Bear, the Executive Director of Oasis Society for opening up the event in ceremony, prayer and song, The Salvation Army Community Response Unit for serving lunch, United Way Greater Victoria’s Labour Committee and their members who served the spaghetti and meatball dinner, and the many organizations who provided services and support throughout the day.

We are excited to take this energy into the new year and encourage everyone in our region to amplify the voices around you, form relationships and focus on solutions!

Project Connect 2020 was made possible thanks to funding from United Way of Greater Victoria and the amazing team of volunteers from our partners like Our Place Society Victoria Cool Aid Society Anawim and the United Way’s #womenunited group.

Check out photos from this special day below:

Today at its Annual General Meeting the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness will appoint Jeff Bray, Executive Director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association as the board’s Community Co-Chair. Bray will replace outgoing Co-Chair Ian Batey who has served a three-year term in the role.

“I want to thank Ian for his three years of dedicated service to our community. And I’d like to welcome Jeff aboard,” said Coalition Co-Chair Mayor Lisa Helps. “It’s terrific to have such a community-minded business leader to co-lead the Coalition for the next three years.”

Bray has served as the Chair of the Community Engagement and Communications Committee for the past two years and will be now be stepping into a larger leadership role with the Coalition.

“It was an honour to be approached and I look forward to serving in this role,” said Bray. “Homelessness is something that affects us all from people sheltering in doorways to the small business owner coming through that same doorway in the morning. The Coalition is doing a good job with proactive solutions and I’m happy to take more of a leadership role in the organization.”

Although there are many housing units renting at $375 per month under construction in the region through the Regional Housing First Program and other BC Housing funded programs, they are not built yet; many of the region’s most marginalized residents are still sheltering out of doors. The Coalition is working in a bottom-up, grassroots way to address homelessness and develops an annual Community Plan to ensure the funding available meets the greatest needs in the community.

“Having Jeff join our board will keep us well-connected with the business community so we can continue to address the issue of homelessness together,” said Kelly Roth, Coalition Executive Director. “When it comes to solving homelessness there is not ‘us and them’; we’re all it in together and Jeff understands this.”

Since its inception, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness has been co-chaired by the Mayor of Victoria and a leader from the business community.

The Coalition’s AGM will be held today from 12-1:30 at the Mary Winnspear Centre in Sidney.


On Saturday, February 23, Member of Parliament Randall Garrison and Member of the Legislative Assembly Mitzi Dean co-hosted a town hall on housing affordability and homelessness in Esquimalt and the Western Communities. As part of the panel discussion, Lisa Crossman, Co-Chair of the Coalition’s People With Lived Experience team and Indigenous Peer Housing Supporter, gave the following presentation. Our thanks to Lisa for her leadership and courage in turning her lived experience into an asset that serves others.

Read more

Letter to the editor of the Victoria Times Colonist by our Executive Director, Don Elliott.

January 7, 2017

Re: “Victoria eyes deadline slip in major goals,” Jan. 5.

Homelessness is a complex issue, one that requires a sensitive, nuanced and focused response. A piece of this is being addressed through a coalition of 40-plus stakeholder organizations working to connect individuals experiencing significant levels of marginalization to housing and support services by April 2017.

The remaining individuals experiencing chronic homelessness are expected to be connected to housing and support services options if they choose by 2021. The kind of system response necessary to connect individuals experiencing chronic homelessness to the right combination of housing options and support services does not happen overnight.

In May 2016, the B.C. Housing Management Commission and the Capital Regional District each agreed to contribute $30 million in funding, along with Island Health committing to align its existing mental-health and substance services with the new housing opportunities. This significant investment is expected to add at least 268 new units of housing with rent levels set at the provincial shelter rate.

These units will work in conjunction with existing housing and support services to begin to provide individuals experiencing chronic homelessness with greater housing choice and support service options.

These focused, collaborative, community-wide initiatives signal a step forward in working to address some of the housing and support service needs of the most vulnerable members of the community.

In Crisis?:

If you require urgent emotional support, including having thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues, please call Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

Youth (under 25 years of age) may access youthspace.ca for online emotional support.

For other resources, including shelter availability, visit bc211.ca