According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Company (CMHC) housing is considered to be affordable when a household spends less than 30% of its pre-tax income on adequate shelter. In addition, “the term ‘affordable housing’ can refer to any part of the housing continuum from temporary emergency shelters through transitional housing, supportive housing, subsidized housing, market rental housing or market homeownership.”
Effectively addressing homelessness requires a range of approaches that are tailored to individual need and are provided through a range of programs and services. The Spectrum of Housing, below, illustrates a distinct suite of housing and support service models that can all help individuals experiencing homelessness move toward greater housing stability.
It is important to note that these are not steps or stops along a continuum, but rather a spectrum of options available to those in-need as their circumstances dictate. These circumstances can fluctuate as life changes, which is why having a range of approaches that are integrated into one system is an important aspect of successful intervention.
Housing alone isn’t enough to end chronic homelessness. The right type and level of support services to meet each individual’s needs is critical in ensuring the ongoing housing stability of someone with a repeated or long-term experience of homelessness. Working in conjunction with appropriate housing, support servuces may include
For more information on Supportive, Supported & Rent Supplement Programs click below:
BC Housing Programs
The Provincial Homelessness Initiative provides housing with integrated supports to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Some PHI developments provide additional supports for clients with mental health and/or addictions issues. Under this initiative, the Province works in partnership with local communities, the federal government, and non-profit providers to develop new housing options with integrated support services.
The Homeless Prevention Program is aimed at providing people in identified at-risk groups facing homelessness with portable rent supplements to help them access rental housing in the private market. The program assists youth transitioning out of foster care, women who have experienced violence or are at-risk of violence, people leaving the correctional and hospital systems, and individuals of Aboriginal descent. Support services are provided to ensure enhanced access to housing and community-based services. The program operates, in many instances, as an enhancement to the existing provincially-funded Homeless Outreach Program/Aboriginal Homeless Outreach Program.
The Homelessness Prevention Fund
The Homeless Prevention Fund (HPF)
The Homeless Prevention Fund is an initiative by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and ten partners that provides emergency assistance to individuals and families in Greater Victoria who are in financial threat of losing their housing. Grants are used to pay rent, utility bills or damage deposits, and the maximum available amount is $450. With the generosity of private donors, the fund was established at the Victoria Foundation in January 2011. Recipients have to demonstrate that they have exhausted all other means of help and have a plan for paying rent next month. They do not have to repay the money, but can only apply once a year.
For information about donating to the HPF: Donate
Access and Contact Information
To access the HPF or for more information contact one of our HPF partners:
Our Place Society, 250-388-7112
Mustard Seed, 250-953-1575
Victoria Native Friendship Centre, 250-384-3211
Rock Bay Landing (Victoria Cool Aid Society), 250-383-1951
Sandy Merriman House (Victoria Cool Aid Society), 250-480-1408
Burnside Gorge Community Association, 250-388-5251
Together Against Poverty Society, 250-361-3521
Pacifica Housing Society, 250-385-2131
St. Vincent de Paul, 250-382-2709
To ensure the best possible service, please mention you are interested in the Homelessness Prevention Fund when you contact these agencies.
BC Rent Supplements
Rent Supplements are BC Housing or Island Health income subsidies to clients of community-based support services programs to secure a rental units that would otherwise be unaffordable. These units can be either in the private rental market, or in non-profit operated rental housing where there is no direct subsidy. While the primary use of a rent supplement is to pay a portion of the client’s rent, it may also be used for a damage deposit, utility deposits, moving costs, start-up household expenses, and similar expenses to enable a client to secure and maintain housing.
Streets to Homes (S2H)
The Streets to Homes pilot was a collaborative effort on the part of the Coalition and eight partner organizations. As of January 1, 2012, the pilot was proved successful and the program was officially transferred to the Pacifica Housing Society.
S2H uses the “Housing First with Supports” model to move individuals experiencing cyclical homelessness directly into housing in the private market through a comprehensive landlord support system. The program secures housing, integrates services, and improves coordination to effectively deliver services to people with mental health and substance use issues who are experiencing homelessness.
To qualify for Streets to Homes, potential tenants must:
- Have been homeless for at least 12 months in the past two years
- Have an observable mental health or substance-use challenge
- Accept the supports and terms of the program
For more information or to apply, contact Pacifica Housing and call 250-385-2131.
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