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Housing partners raise awareness during Homelessness Action Week

For Immediate Release

Oct. 13, 2013

Ministry of Natural Gas Development
and Minister Responsible for Housing

VICTORIA – Oct. 13 – 19 is Homelessness Action Week in British Columbia. This week is an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the work being done across the province to help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The province works in partnership with local governments and community organizations to deliver services that will help end homelessness in our communities; from housing with support services to emergency shelters that are open 24/7, to drop-in-centres and homeless outreach teams who connect people with stable housing and services.

Providing housing and supports to B.C.’s most vulnerable citizens are key priorities of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters. Since 2001, the number of provincially subsidized apartments and shelter spaces available for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness has more than doubled to 11,000. This includes more than 1,800 year-round emergency shelter spaces, extreme-weather shelters that open during the cold winter months and more than 2,100 new supportive-housing units being built through partnerships with local governments.

Homelessness Action Week is a chance to learn about homelessness, connect with agencies in your community and find out how you can help. Events will be held around the province to raise awareness of the on-going work to address the challenges of homelessness in B.C. communities. Find out more about these events here:

You can find more information on what government is doing to end homelessness and support affordable housing at:


Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing –

“Homelessness Action Week is about raising awareness of all the good work that is being done to help end homelessness in our communities. It is also a reminder that there are people who still need our support and there is still work to be done.”

“With our partners, community agencies who share our commitment to provide new opportunities and hope when and where it’s needed most, we have helped thousands of people move off the streets, stabilize and rebuild their lives. From emergency shelters to supportive housing, we will continue to work closely with communities to help end homelessness in our province.”

David MacIntyre, executive director, MPA Society, Vancouver –

“As a non-profit organization working daily with people with mental health issues, we clearly understand the importance of having a home and the direct connection to recovery and improved health.Working with our partners in the provincial government, city and the community, we are gratified to see the success of residents in supportive housing developments like Sanford Apartments, which provides valuable resources as people work towards recovery.”

Shelley Cook, executive director, John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan –

“We are celebrating five years of operating Cardington Apartments – supportive housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. For the past three years we’ve also run One Cup at a Time – a social enterprise that provides job training. These projects are made possible by funding from the provincial government. Working with the province and our community partners, we’re now seeing the results, as people move from the street to a home and, ultimately, employment.”

Quick Facts:

  • Since 2001, the B.C. Government has invested $3.6 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families.
  • This year, more than 98,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
  • Last fiscal year, approximately $70 million was provided to ensure that emergency shelters are available in communities across B.C. This includes 1,800 permanent, year-round shelter beds as well as more than 1,200 extreme weather and temporary shelter spaces in communities across B.C. during the winter months.
  • Last year, provincially funded outreach workers connected more than 6,700 homeless people to permanent stable housing.
  • Since 2001, more than 6,600 new housing units for the homeless and emergency shelter spaces have been completed or are in development.
  • Through the Aboriginal Housing Initiative launched in 2007, more than 200 units of off-reserve housing are being built to create safe, secure and culturally appropriate housing for youth, women, elders and those struggling with addiction.

Learn More:

A backgrounder follows.

Media Contact:


Elaine McKay

BC Housing

778 452-6476

[email protected]




Provincially subsidized housing

Since 2001, the B.C. Government has invested $3.6 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. More than 98,000 households benefit from a diverse range of provincial housing program and services.

Supportive Housing

  • The Province has partnerships with eight municipalities – committing $520 million to build more than 2,100 new supportive units for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • These municipalities are: Abbotsford (72 units); Campbell River (51 units); Kelowna (128 units); Maple Ridge (46 units); Nanaimo (approx. 160 units); Surrey (103 units); Vancouver (approx. 1,500 units) and Victoria (176 units).

Rent Supplements

  • Rental Assistance Program (RAP) was introduced in 2006 to help low-income working families with the cost of private market rental housing. Working families earning up to $35,000 a year can receive direct rent subsidies ranging from $50 up to $765 per month depending on the size of their family and location. The average monthly payment is approximately $410. More than 10,000 families in British Columbia receive monthly cash assistance through the RAP program.
  • Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) helps make housing more affordable for low-income seniors (age 60 or over) who rent in the private market. The average monthly subsidy is approximately $160. Over 16,700 seniors’ households in B.C. receive SAFER benefits.

Emergency Shelters and Homeless Outreach

  • Approximately $185 million was provided last year to support more than 11,000 emergency shelter spaces, subsidized units and rent supplements for people who were homeless across British Columbia.
  • Last year, approximately $70 million funded more than 1,800 permanent, year-round emergency shelters in 34 communities across B.C. Ninety-two per cent of the permanent shelter beds are available 24/7 and 97 per cent provide three meals a day.
  • More than 1,200 Extreme Weather Response shelter spaces were available last year during the winter months in more than 70 communities across B.C.
  • Outreach teams operate in over 60 communities to help connect homeless people to stable housing and community supports such as health services and income assistance. Aboriginal outreach teams provide support in 17 of those communities.
  • Last year, provincially funded outreach and shelter workers connected approximately 6,700 homeless people to housing, income assistance and a range of support services.
  • Nearly 1,000 new housing units for homeless people are currently in development or under construction in communities across B.C.

Support for Seniors

  • Nearly 5,100 assisted living and supportive units have been created to help seniors remain independent and stay in their home communities, close to family and friends.
  • The Home Adaptations for Independence program provides financial assistance of up to $20,000 per home to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities with home modifications for accessible, safe and independent living.
    • Since inception, more than 300 households completed renovations through the Home Adaptations for Independence program, making it possible for low-income seniors and people with disabilities to continue to live in the safety and comfort of their home.

Aboriginal Housing

  • More than 4,200 housing units are specifically designated to provide Aboriginal people with access to safe, secure housing.
  • More than 200 off-reserve units have been built to provide safe, secure and culturally appropriate housing for Aboriginal youth, women, elders and those struggling with addictions.
  • An additional $5-million investment was made in partnership with the federal government and Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) to create new affordable housing for Aboriginalhouseholds in need.
  • We have transferred more than 4,200 Aboriginal housing units to AHMA to support Aboriginal self-management of social housing.
  • Last year, provincially funded shelter and outreach workers helped more than 1,750 Aboriginal people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness to find housing.

Women’s Transition Housing and Support Services

  • The B.C. Government provides approximately $32 million annually to support about 800 spaces in transition and safe houses as well as second-stage housing.
  • Funds for 24/7 staffing are provided for all transition houses.
  • In addition to long-term transitional housing, the province funds about 300 emergency shelters spaces for women or women with children.

Investing in Affordable Housing

  • The B.C. Government has invested approximately $221 million to purchase and renovate 51 buildings across the province.
  • This has protected more than 2,300 units of existing affordable housing, most of which faced conversion into more expensive forms of housing or other uses.
  • Twenty-six of the buildings are Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver, New Westminster and Victoria, with more than 1,500 rooms, preserving affordable housing for those who need it most and in most instances providing support services.
  • The federal and B.C. governments have entered a partnership to renovate and restore 13 of these provincially owned buildings in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).
  • Approximately $143.3 million is being invested to renovate and restore 13 of the SROs in the DTES as part of a federal-provincial partnership that also includes funding for a 15-year agreement covering repair and replacement of building components and systems.