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.

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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